Epidermal growth factor (EGF)/fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-responsive stem (progenitor) cells from embryonic brain have self-renewing and multipotent properties and thus are good candidates for donor cells in neural transplantation. However, the survival and differentiation to mature neurons after grafting of stem cells into adult brain are rather poor. We hypothesize that the differentiation of stem cells to mature neurons, such as dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons, is dependent on environmental cues that control the ontogenic development. We compared the survival and differentiation between mesencephalic (MS) and cortical (CTx) stem (progenitor) cells, following grafting into bilateral striata of hemiparkinsonian model rats. MS and CTx stem cells were prepared from E12 rats and proliferated in serum-free medium with EGF or basic FGF for 2 weeks. One day after being primed to differentiate, the cell suspensions of both origins were grafted into the bilateral striata of adult rats that had unilateral 6-OHDA lesions in the substantia nigra. MS cells differentiated to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons more strongly in DA-depleted striatum than in intact striatum, and methamphetamine-induced rotation was ameliorated in half of the grafted animals. Rosette-like cell aggregation and dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) were less in and around the grafts in DA-depleted striatum, suggesting less proliferation and more differentiation of MS stem cells in DA-depleted striatum. Neither TH-positive neurons nor behavioral amelioration were detected following CTx stem (progenitor) cell transplantation in the striata. Data suggest that the DA-depleted striatum offers a suitable environment for MS stem (progenitor) cells to differentiate into mature DAergic neurons.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.