In vitro and in vivo characterization of hNT neuron neurotransmitter phenotypes

Brain Res Bull. 2000 Oct;53(3):263-8. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(00)00329-4.


The hNT neuron exhibits many characteristics of neuroepithelial precursor cells, making them an excellent model to study neuronal plasticity in vitro and in vivo. These cells express a number of neurotransmitters in vitro, including dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid and acetylcholine. However, there have been few reports of the neurotransmitters that hNT neurons express in vivo. The present study examined whether hNT neurons express the same neurotransmitters in vivo as they do in vitro. First, the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and the human specific nuclear marker NuMA by hNT neurons was confirmed. Nineteen normal animals were then transplanted with 80,000 hNT neurons aimed at the striatum, hippocampus or cerebral cortex. Five additional animals received injections of medium. All animals received daily intraperitoneal injections of cyclosporine (10 mg/kg) and survived 30 days. Sections through the transplants were examined for NuMA-positive hNT neurons, and for the presence of the three neurotransmitter markers: TH, GAD and ChAT. The hNT neurons were found in the striatum and cortex. Of the hNT neurons found within the rat striatum, 33% were ChAT-positive. In the cortex, only 4% of the neurons expressed ChAT. No GAD-positive hNT neurons were detected at either site. No NuMA-positive neurons were found in the hippocampus. The implanted hNT neurons did not induce activation of astrocytes as determined by immunocytochemistry for glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Moreover, no hNT neuron was found to express GFAP in vivo. Together, these data suggest that the hNT neurons engraft in the new host tissue, maintain their neuronal identity and may be guided in differentiation according to local environmental cues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Transplantation
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / analysis
  • Corpus Striatum / chemistry
  • Corpus Striatum / surgery
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / analysis
  • Graft Survival
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / transplantation
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Matrix-Associated Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis


  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • NUMA1 protein, human
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Nuclear Matrix-Associated Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Numa1 protein, rat
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase