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Making Transplanted Neurons Feel At Home

 
  July, 14 2003 8:00
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
Transplanting new neurons to replace those that are damaged is an important potential treatment for many neurodegenerative diseases, but progress toward such neural replacement therapy has been slowed by the poor integration of these transplants in the host. One culprit is glial cells, reports a new study in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience. These cells, which normally create a barrier (or ‘glial scar’) between healthy and damaged nerve tissue in response to injury, also make it difficult for newly transplanted neurons to integrate themselves into their new environment.

The authors transplanted retinal cells into adult mice lacking the genes that encode two proteins important for glial scar formation. Several weeks later, the authors found that the transplanted cells had moved into the surrounding host retina and formed what looked like normal retinal neurons. Furthermore, the newly integrated cells were still around as long as six months after transplantation. In contrast, neurons transplanted into normal mice were mostly found clustered near the injection site. These findings suggest that manipulating the scar-forming response of glial cells may increase the chances for successful transplantation therapy.

Author contact:

Dong Feng Chen
(Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 912 7490
E-mail: dfchen@vision.eri.harvard.edu

Also available online

(C) Nature Neuroscience press release.


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