09 June 2014

Fetal neurons are long – lived

Researchers at the Harvard University McLean Clinic, working under the guidance of Professor Ole Isacson, have demonstrated that fetal dopaminegic neurons remain viable and functional for at least 14 years after transplantation into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease.

Over the past 20 years, approximately 25 patients with advanced stages of Parkinson's disease have been transplanted fetal dopaminergic neurons into brain tissue using a method consisting in the introduction of a liquid suspension of cells using a thin needle. In most cases, the procedure provided significant improvements in symptoms and allowed to reduce the dosages of dopamine drugs taken by patients. However, until now, experts were not sure that the transplanted cells remain viable in the recipients' brains, which hindered progress in this research direction.

In order to get an answer to this question, the authors analyzed postmortem brain tissue samples of five patients with Parkinson's disease who underwent fetal dopaminergic neuron transplantation over the past 14 years and died not from the underlying disease. The analysis showed that, unlike the patients' own cells affected by the disease, the transplanted neurons were characterized by normal levels of expression of dopamine transporter proteins and good condition of mitochondria.

A diagram from an article in Cell Reports.

According to Isakson, these results may be due to the peculiarities of the method of administration. He notes that other clinical studies, in which approximately 60 patients were injected with large fragments of nerve tissue using a thick needle, brought worse clinical results. Perhaps this was due to cell damage.

He also notes that the isolation of dopaminergic cells from abortive material is a very difficult task. It would be much easier to grow cells for transplantation from stem cells in the laboratory. To date, such clinical studies have not yet been conducted.

Article by Hallett et al. Long-term dopamine transporter expression and normal cellular distribution of mitochondria in dopaminergic neuron transplants in Parkinson's disease patients is published in the journal Cell Reports.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of McLean Hospital:
McLean Hospital Researchers See Promise in Transplanted Fetal Stem Cells for Parkinson's.


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