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Engineering cells to secrete growth factors


The neutrotrophins stimulate survival and differentiation of a range of target neurons. A wealth of evidence suggests that central cholinergic neurons depend on nerve growth factor (NGF) for trophic support. Grafts of NGF-producing cells rescue axotomized basal forebrain cholinergic neurons and reduce cholinergic cell death in the medial septum. Skeletal muscle cells, immortalized from embryonic day 15 (E15) rat embryos for transplantation purposes, were transfected with a human NGF construct and individual clones tested for NGF production by a biological assay using embryonic sympathetic ganglia. Clone RM22 showed a consistent ability to produce human recombinant NGF in high concentration; RM22 cells were grafted to the rat brain, following fimbria-fornix lesions, in order to examine the influence of these cells on basal forebrain cholinergic neurons. The results suggest that implantation of genetically modified cells, engineered by the introduction of expression plasmids or viral constructs to produce NGF or other neurotrophins may have therapeutic applications in rescuing damaged central cholinergic neurons in senile dementia of the Alzheimer type as well as in providing trophic support for chromaffin tissue grafts in Parkinson's disease. Moreover, the use of genetically engineered cells may be used to study the effects of administering tailor-made neurotrophins with novel activity profiles.

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Deceased 16 May 1993

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Ebendal, T., Lönnerberg, P., Pei, G. et al. Engineering cells to secrete growth factors. J Neurol 242, S5–S7 (1994).

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  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Cholinergic Neuron
  • Medial Septum
  • Trophic Support
  • Secrete Growth Factor