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Dopamine release from nigral transplants visualized in vivo in a Parkinson's patient


Synaptic dopamine release from embryonic nigral transplants has been monitored in the striatum of a patient with Parkinson's disease using [11C]-raclopride positron emission tomography to measure dopamine D2 receptor occupancy by the endogenous transmitter. In this patient, who had received a transplant in the right putamen 10 years earlier, grafts had restored both basal and drug-induced dopamine release to normal levels. This was associated with sustained, marked clinical benefit and normalized levels of dopamine storage in the grafted putamen. Despite an ongoing disease process, grafted neurons can thus continue for a decade to store and release dopamine and give rise to substantial symptomatic relief.

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Figure 1: Nigral transplants can give rise to long-lasting, major clinical improvement and restore dopamine storage in the striatum to normal levels despite an ongoing disease process.
Figure 2: Well-developed nigral grafts restore dopamine storage and basal and drug-induced dopamine release to normal levels in the striatum.


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This study was supported by grants from the Swedish Medical Research Council, the European Union (Biomed 2 grant BMH4-CT95-0341), the UK Parkinson's Disease Society and the Kock, Wiberg, Söderberg and King Gustav V and Queen Victoria Foundations. We also thank J.B., whose participation made this study possible.

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Correspondence to Paola Piccini.

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Piccini, P., Brooks, D., Björklund, A. et al. Dopamine release from nigral transplants visualized in vivo in a Parkinson's patient. Nat Neurosci 2, 1137–1140 (1999).

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