Background: Although cell therapy is a promising approach after cerebral cortex lesion, few studies assess quantitatively its behavioral gain in nonhuman primates. Furthermore, implantations of fetal grafts of exogenous stem cells are limited by safety and ethical issues.
Objective: To test in nonhuman primates the transplantation of autologous adult neural progenitor cortical cells with assessment of functional outcome.
Methods: Seven adult macaque monkeys were trained to perform a manual dexterity task, before the hand representation in motor cortex was chemically lesioned unilaterally. Five monkeys were used as control, compared with 2 monkeys subjected to different autologous cells transplantation protocols performed at different time intervals.
Results: After lesion, there was a complete loss of manual dexterity in the contralesional hand. The 5 "control" monkeys recovered progressively and spontaneously part of their manual dexterity, reaching a unique and definitive plateau of recovery, ranging from 38% to 98% of prelesion score after 10 to 120 days. The 2 "treated" monkeys reached a first spontaneous recovery plateau at about 25 and 40 days postlesion, representing 35% and 61% of the prelesion performance, respectively. In contrast to the controls, a second recovery plateau took place 2 to 3 months after cell transplantation, corresponding to an additional enhancement of functional recovery, representing 24% and 37% improvement, respectively.
Conclusions: These pilot data, derived from 2 monkeys treated differently, suggest that, in the present experimental conditions, autologous adult brain progenitor cell transplantation in a nonhuman primate is safe and promotes enhancement of functional recovery.