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Implanted neural progenitor cells regulate glial reaction to brain injury and establish gap junctions with host glial cells

Rocío Talaverón;Esperanza R.Matarredona;Rosa R.de la Cruz;David Macías;Victoria Gálvez, and Angel M. Pastor Departamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Sevilla, Avenida Reina Mercedes;  
Transplantation of neural stem/progenitor cells(NPCs) in the lesioned brain is able to restore morphological and physiological alterations induced by different injuries. The local microenvironment created at the site of grafting and the communication between grafted and host cells are crucial in the beneficial effects attributed to the NPC implants. We have previously described that NPC transplantation in an animal model of central axotomy restores firing properties and synaptic coverage of lesioned neurons and modulates their trophic factor content. In this study, we aim to explore anatomical relationships between implanted NPCs and host glia that might account for the implant-induced neuroprotective effects. Postnatal rat subventricular zone NPCs were isolated and grafted in adult rats after transection of the medial longitudinal fascicle. Brains were removed and analyzed eight weeks later. Immunohistochemistry for different glial markers revealed that NPC-grafted animals displayed significantly greater microglial activation than animals that received only vehicle injections. Implanted NPCs were located in close apposition to activated microglia and reactive astrocytes. The gap junction protein connexin43 was present in NPCs and glial cells at the lesion site and was often found interposed within adjacent implanted and glial cells. Gap junctions were identified between implanted NPCs and host astrocytes and less frequently between NPCs and microglia. Our results show that implanted NPCs modulate the glial reaction to lesion and establish the possibility of communication through gap junctions between grafted and host glial cells which might be involved in the restorative effects of NPC implants.
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