Fetal hippocampal cells grafted to kainate-lesioned CA3 region of adult hippocampus suppress aberrant supragranular sprouting of host mossy fibers.
Selective lesion of the rat hippocampus using an intracerebroventricular administration of kainic acid (KA) represents an animal model for studying both lesion recovery and temporal lobe epilepsy. This KA lesion leads initially to loss of CA3 hippocampal neurons, the postsynaptic target of mossy fibers, and later results in aberrant mossy fiber sprouting into the dentate supragranular layer (DSGL). Because of the close association of this aberrant mossy fiber sprouting with an increase in the seizure susceptibility of the dentate gyrus, delayed therapeutic strategies capable of suppressing the sprouting of mossy fibers into the DSGL are of significant importance. We hypothesize that neural grafting can restore the disrupted hippocampal mossy fiber circuitry in this model through the establishment of appropriate mossy fiber projections onto grafted pyramidal neurons and that these appropriate projections will lead to reduced inappropriate sprouting into the DSGL. Large grafts of Embryonic Day 19 hippocampal cells were transplanted into adult hippocampus at 4 days post-KA lesion. Aberrant mossy fiber sprouting was quantified after 3-4 months survival using three different measures of Timm's staining density. Grafts located near the degenerated CA3 cell layer showed dense ingrowth of host mossy fibers compared to grafts elsewhere in the hippocampus. Aberrant mossy fiber sprouting throughout the dentate gyrus was dramatically and specifically reduced in animals with grafts near the degenerated CA3 cell layer compared to "lesion only" animals and those with ectopic grafts away from the CA3 region. These results reveal the capability of appropriately placed fetal hippocampal grafts to restore disrupted hippocampal mossy fiber circuitry by attracting sufficient host mossy fibers to suppress the development of aberrant circuitry in hippocampus. Thus, providing an appropriate postsynaptic target at early postlesion periods significantly facilitates lesion recovery. The graft-induced long-term suppression of aberrant sprouting shown here may provide a new avenue for amelioration of hyperexcitability that occurs following hippocampal lesions.
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