Functional integration of striatal allografts in a primate model of Huntington's disease

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Huntington's disease is an autosomal dominant, inherited disorder that results in progressive degeneration of the basal ganglia (especially the neostriatal caudate nucleus and putamen) and other forebrain structures and is associated with a clinical profile of movement, cognitive and psychiatric impairments for which there is at present no effective therapy1. Neuropathological, neurochemical and behavioral features of the disease can all be reproduced in experimental animals by local injection of excito-toxic2,3 or metabolic4,5 toxins into the neostriatum. All these features of the disease can be alleviated, at least in rats, by transplantation of embryonic striatal tissue into the degenerated striatum6–8, which was the basis for commencing the first clinical trials of striatal transplantation in Huntington's patients9,10. However, although rat striatal xenografts may temporarily reduce apomorphine-induced dyskinesias in monkeys11, there has been no demonstration that allograft techniques that work well in rats translate effectively to the much larger differentiated striatum of primates12. Here we demonstrate good survival, differentiation and integration of striatal allografts in the primate neostriatum, and recovery in a test of skilled motor performance. Long-term graft survival in primates indicates probable success for clinical transplants in Huntington's disease; in addition, our data suggest that graft placement has a direct influence on the pattern and extent of functional recovery.

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Kendall, A., Rayment, F., Torres, E. et al. Functional integration of striatal allografts in a primate model of Huntington's disease. Nat Med 4, 727–729 (1998) doi:10.1038/nm0698-727

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