Striatal tissue transplantation in non-human primates

Prog Brain Res. 2000;127:381-404. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(00)27018-0.


The caudate nucleus and putamen form part of a complex but topographically connected circuitry that links the cortex, the basal ganglia and the thalamus. Within this complex system lie a series of functionally and anatomically segregated loops that allow the concurrent processing of a wide range of cognitive and motor information (Alexander et al., 1986; Alexander and Crutcher, 1990). As a constituent of these loops it has been shown that the striatum is involved in movement initiation, response selection and attentional processes (Robbins and Brown, 1990; Alexander, 1994; Lawrence et al., 1998). Although it is the medium spiny GABAergic projection neurones that are primarily lost in HD, it is not sufficient merely to replace the GABA. Instead it is crucial for striatal tissue transplants to integrate with the host tissue in such a way that the cortico-striatal-thalamic circuitry is restored and is functional. Rodent studies have progressed a long way in establishing the principle that striatal grafts can, at least partially, restore function and integrate appropriately with the host (Dunnett and Svendsen, 1993; Björklund et al., 1994; Sanberg et al., 1998) but the limited behavioural repertoire and the undifferentiated striatum meant that it was inevitable that studies should progress into primate models. Anatomical tracing studies have demonstrated that motor, premotor and somatosensory cortical areas send corticostriatal projections primarily to the putamen region in primates, whereas the head and body of the caudate nucleus mostly receive efferent input from associative cortical areas (Kemp and Powell, 1970; Kunzle, 1975, 1977, 1978; Selemon and Goldman-Rakic, 1985). Based on such anatomical, and functional, studies Alexander and colleagues have proposed the existence of at least five cortico-striatal-thalamic loops including a motor, a dorsolateral-prefrontal and an orbito-frontal loop (Alexander et al., 1986). The concentration of motor inputs to the putamen region suggests a particular involvement of this structure in the motor loop. Indeed, unilateral lesions of the putamen disrupt motor performance in the marmoset and generate apomorphine-induced dyskinesias in larger primates (Burns et al., 1995; Kendall et al., 2000). The implantation of striatal grafts into marmosets that had previously received unilateral putamen lesions ameliorated some of the motor impairments, which suggested at least partial restoration of the motor loop. In support of this we found direct evidence of host-graft cortico-striatal connectivity using an anterograde tracer injected in the primary motor cortical region (Kendall et al., 1998a). In larger primates, with lesions of the caudate and putamen, striatal [figure: see text] allografts and xenografts have been shown to reduce apomorphine-induced dyskinesias (Isacson et al., 1989; Hantraye et al., 1992; Palfi et al., 1998). The mechanism by which dyskinesias are elicited is not fully understood but alterations in firing patterns within both segments of the globus pallidus have been identified during dyskinetic movements (Matsumura et al., 1995). It seems likely that it would actually require re-establishment of afferent connections between the implanted putamen and the globus pallidus as well as of functioning dopamine receptors within the graft for the reduction in the dyskinetic profile to be observed. Certainly there is evidence, from rodent studies and the marmoset study described here, that close proximity of the graft to the globus pallidus yields better functional recovery (Isacson et al., 1986). In addition, anatomical tracing studies in rats have demonstrated connections between the implanted tissue and the host globus pallidus (Wictorin et al., 1989b, 1990) However, the relationship between graft placement and functional recovery remains to be fully substantiated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / chemically induced
  • Brain Tissue Transplantation / methods
  • Brain Tissue Transplantation / trends*
  • Callithrix / anatomy & histology
  • Callithrix / physiology
  • Callithrix / surgery
  • Denervation / adverse effects
  • Denervation / methods
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Graft Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / pathology
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Huntington Disease / surgery*
  • Macaca / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca / physiology
  • Macaca / surgery
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Neostriatum / physiopathology
  • Neostriatum / surgery
  • Neostriatum / transplantation*
  • Neurotoxins / adverse effects
  • Primates / anatomy & histology
  • Primates / physiology
  • Primates / surgery*
  • Putamen / drug effects
  • Putamen / physiopathology
  • Putamen / surgery
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Neurotoxins