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Evidence for dopaminergic re-innervation by embryonic allografts in an optimized rat model of the Parkinsonian variant of multiple system atrophy

Puschban Z, Stefanova N, Petersén Å, Winkler C, Brundin P, Poewe IW and Wenning GP.

Brain Research Bulletin 68: 54-58 (2005)


Embryonic transplantation has been considered as an alternative treatment strategy for drug resistant parkinsonian symptoms in multiple system atrophy. So far our group has created a number of animal models of striatonigral degeneration, the core pathology underlying progressive Parkinsonism associated with multiple system atrophy, as testbed for neurorestaurative and neuroprotective approaches. Using embryonic allografts of either nigral, striatal, or combined nigro-striatal tissue we were able to consistently show graft survival in a denervated and lesioned striatum as well as improvement of rotational behaviour. However, due to severe lesions of the striatum and the chosen time window of 3-6 weeks between lesion and grafting, severe gliosis led to demarcation of the graft and prevented re-innervation of the remaining adult striatum. The aim of the present study was to modify our "double toxin-double lesion" rat model by reducing the dose of quinolinic acid injected into the striatum from 150 to 75 nmol and shortening the interval between lesion and grafting to 1-2 weeks. Injection of 75 nmol quinolinic acid still led to a significant reduction of DARPP-32 positive neurons and volume in the striatum. Analysis of embryonic mesencephalic grafts revealed survival of dopaminergic neurons and outgrowth of fibres re-innervating the adult striatum. Rotation behaviour was improved in the graft group. Considering embryonic transplantation a possible future antiparkinson therapeutic intervention in multiple system atrophy patients our data stress the necessity of optimal patient selection, i.e. early stage disease with limited striatal dysfunction.