Structure-specific patterns of neural stem cell engraftment after transplantation in the adult mouse brain

Deborah J. Watson, Raquel M. Walton, Sergey G. Magnitsky, Jeff W.M. Bulte, Harish Poptani, John H. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Transplantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) may be useful for delivering exogenous gene products to the diseased CNS. When NSCs are transplanted into the developing mouse brain, they can migrate extensively and differentiate into cells appropriate to the sites of engraftment, in response to the normal signals directing endogenous cells to their appropriate fates. Much of the prior work on NSC migration in the adult brain has examined directed migration within or toward focal areas of injury such as ischemia, brain tumors, or 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions. However, treatment of many genetic disorders that affect the CNS will require widespread dissemination of the donor cells in the postnatal brain, because the lesions are typically distributed globally. We therefore tested the ability of NSCs to migrate in the unlesioned adult mouse brain after stereotaxic transplantation into several structures including the cortex and hippocampus. NSC engraftment was monitored in live animals by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) labeling of cells. Histological studies demonstrated that the cells engrafted in significantly different patterns within different regions of the brain. In the cerebral cortex, donor cells migrated in all directions from the injection site. The cells maintained an immature phenotype and cortical migration was enhanced by trypsin treatment of the cells, indicating a role for cell surface proteins. In the hippocampus, overall cell survival and migration were lower but there was evidence of neuronal differentiation. In the thalamus, the transplanted cells remained in a consolidated mass at the site of injection. These variations in pattern of engraftment should be taken into account when designing treatment approaches in nonlesion models of neurologic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-704
Number of pages12
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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