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Combining neuroprotective treatment of embryonic nigral donor tissue with mild hypothermia of the graft recipient

Karlsson J, Petersén Å, Gidö G, Wieloch T and Brundin P.

Cell Transplantation 14: 301-309 (2005)


Around 80-95% of the immature dopaminergic neurons die when embryonic ventral mesencephalic tissue is transplanted. Cell death occurs both during the preparation of donor tissue and after graft implantation, but the effect of combining successful neuroprotective treatments before and after transplantation has not been extensively investigated. We therefore treated embryonic rat mesencephalic tissue with a combination of the lipid peroxidation inhibitor tirilazad mesylate (3 microM) and the caspase inhibitor Ac.YVAD.cmk (500 microM) and transplanted the tissue into hemiparkinsonian rats kept hypothermic (32-33 degrees C) or normothermic (37 degrees C) during, and 90 min following, graft surgery. Suspension cell number did not differ between untreated or tirilazad/YVAD-treated preparations prior to transplantation. When graft survival was evaluated 6 weeks after implantation, both tirilazad/YVAD pretreatment and mild hypothermia increased the survival of transplanted dopaminergic neurons. Approximately 50-57% of the embryonic dopaminergic neurons survived the dissociation and grafting procedure in rats rendered hypothermic, but there was no significant additive effect on graft survival with a combined treatment. All groups of rats exhibited behavioral recovery in the amphetamine-induced rotation test. There was a significantly enhanced functional capacity of grafts placed in hypothermic as compared to normothermic rats. However, tirilazad/YVAD pretreated implants did not afford greater behavioral improvement than control-treated grafts. Our results suggest that neuroprotective treatments administered prior to and immediately after neural graft implantation may under certain conditions rescue, at least in part, the same subset of dopaminergic neurons. The study also emphasizes the importance of the immediate time after grafting for transplant survival, with relevance both for primary mesencephalic implants and stem cell grafts.