Delayed transplantation of human neurons following brain injury in rats: A long-term graft survival and behavior study

Chen Zhang, Kathryn E. Saatman, Nicolas C. Royo, Kristie M. Soltesz, Marie Millard, Joost W. Schouten, Melissa Motta, Rachel C. Hoover, Asenia McMillan, Deborah J. Watson, Virginia M.Y. Lee, John Q. Trojanowski, Tracy K. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The NTera2 (NT2) cell line is a homogeneous population of cells, which, when treated in vitro with retinoic acid, terminally differentiate into postmitotic neuronal NT2N cells. Although NT2N neurons transplanted in the acute (24 h postinjury) period survive for up to 1 month following experimental traumatic brain injury (TBI), nothing is known of their ability to survive for longer periods or of their effects when engrafted during the chronic postinjury period. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 348; 360-400 g) were initially anesthetized and subjected to severe lateral fluid-percussion (FP) brain injury or sham injury. At 1 month postinjury, only brain-injured animals showing severe neurobehavioral deficits received cryopreserved NT2N neurons stereotaxically transplanted into three sites in the peri-injured cortex (n = 18). Separate groups of similarly brain-injured rats received human fibroblast cells (n = 13) or cell suspension vehicle (n = 14). Sham-injured animals (no brain injury) served as controls and received NT2N transplants (n = 24). All animals received daily immunosuppression for three months. Behavioral testing was performed at 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks post-transplantation, after which animals were sacrificed for histological analysis. Nissl staining and anti-human neuronal specific enolase (NSE) immunostaining revealed that NT2N neurons transplanted in the chronic post-injury period survived up to 12 weeks post-transplantation, extended processes into the host cortex and immunolabeled positively for synaptophysin. There were no statistical differences in cognitive or motor function among the transplanted brain-injured groups. Long-term graft survival suggests that NT2N neurons may be a viable source of neural cells for transplantation after TBI and also that these grafts can survive for a prolonged time and extend processes into the host cortex when transplanted in the chronic post-injury period following TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1456-1474
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Fluid percussion
  • Head injury
  • NT2N
  • Neuronal grafts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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