Microtransplantation of dopaminergic cell suspensions: further characterization and optimization of grafting parameters

Cell Transplant. 2009;18(2):119-33. doi: 10.3727/096368909788341324.


Intracerebral transplantation of dopaminergic (DA) cells is currently further explored as a potential restorative therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD). However, before they can be considered for a more widespread clinical use a number of critical issues have to be resolved, including an optimized transplantation protocol. This study has been performed in a rat 6-hydroxydopamine model of PD and is based on the microtransplantation approach. The results demonstrate a reduced survival (threefold) for a single cell suspension of E14 rat ventral mesencephalon compared to a fragment suspension when a metal cannula is used for implantation. However, fragment suspensions result in a more variable graft survival and ectopically placed cells along the implantation tract. When a glass capillary is used for implantation, the survival of the single cell suspension (so-called "micrograft") improved by fourfold (vs. single cells/metal cannula) and is superior to the combination of the metal cannula and fragment suspension (+40%). The micrografts show a reduced variability in DA neuron survival as well as fewer ectopically placed cells. Moreover, the implantation time can significantly be reduced from 19 to 7 min in micrografted animals without a compromise in DA graft survival and functional behavioral outcome. Using the microtransplantation approach graft size can be tailored effectively by varying the density of the final cell suspension at least between 11,000 and 320,000 cells/microl, resulting in comparable survival of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons in the range of 2-4%. With this approach no more than 100 surviving TH-positive neurons are necessary to produce functional effects in the amphetamine-induced rotation test. Interestingly, we found that DA micrografts into lesion striatum present 20% higher survival rates of TH neurons in comparison to the intact striatum. In summary, these results provide further evidence for the usefulness of the microtransplantation approach and allow for a more precise and tailored adaptation of the implantation parameters for further studies on DA, and possibly also other neural-, glial-, and stem cell-derived grafts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Oxidopamine
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stereotyped Behavior


  • Oxidopamine
  • Dopamine