In many species, graft survival and graft-derived behavioral recovery are affected by the embryonic donor age. We compared the ability of solid and suspension grafts of human embryonic mesencephalic dopaminergic (DA) neurons at different embryonic stages to survive intraparenchymal transplantation into 6-OHDA lesioned immunosuppressed rats. Suspension grafts survived best when donor age was between postconception (PC) days 34 and 56. Transplants displayed numerous healthy tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive (TH-IR) neurons which sent extensive neuritic processes into the host striatum. Suspension grafts survived poorly when donor age was greater than 65 days. Solid implants displayed comparable viability of TH-IR neurons when donor age was between 44 and 65 days. No solid grafts contained TH-IR cells when donor tissue was older than 72 days. The suspension and solid methods of transplantation resulted in comparable survival of robust grafts, but solid grafts resulted in more intergraft variability than suspension grafts, particularly among the more marginal implants. Our results demonstrate that the upper limit for survival of human embryonic DA suspension grafts correlates well with the period of development of the human nigrostriatal pathway. The "window" for donor age of solid human embryonic DA grafts appears to be extended by about 9 days in comparison to suspension grafts. These data suggest that the upper age limit for grafting human mesencephalic DA neurons should be PC day 56 for suspension grafts, and PC day 65 for solid implants. Older donors are likely to produce grafts with fewer surviving DA neurons.
- Parkinson's disease
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