Anticonvulsant effects after grafting of rat, porcine, and human mesencephalic neural progenitor cells into the rat subthalamic nucleus
Cell transplantation based therapy is a promising strategy for treating intractable epilepsies. Inhibition of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) or substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) is a powerful experimental approach for remote control of different partial seizure types, when targeting the seizure focus is not amenable. Here, we tested the hypothesis that grafting of embryonic/fetal neural precursor cells (NPCs) from various species (rat, human, pig) into STN or SNr of adult rats induces anticonvulsant effects. To rationally refine this approach, we included NPCs derived from the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) and ventral mesencephalon (VM), both of which are able to develop a GABAergic phenotype. All VM- and MGE-derived cells showed intense migration behavior after grafting into adult rats, developed characteristics of inhibitory interneurons, and survived at least up to 4 months after transplantation. By using the intravenous pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) seizure threshold test in adult rats, transient anticonvulsant effects were observed after bilateral grafting of NPCs derived from human and porcine VM into STN, but not after SNr injection (site-specificity). In contrast, MGE-derived NPCs did not cause anticonvulsant effects after grafting into STN or SNr (cell-specificity). Neither induction of status epilepticus by lithium-pilocarpine to induce neuronal damage prior to the PTZ test nor pretreatment of MGE cells with retinoic acid and potassium chloride to increase differentiation into GABAergic neurons could enhance anticonvulsant effectiveness of MGE cells. This is the first proof-of-principle study showing anticonvulsant effects by bilateral xenotransplantation of NPCs into the STN. Our study highlights the value of VM-derived NPCs for interneuron-based cell grafting targeting the STN.
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