Fetal tectal or cortical tissue transplanted into brachial lesion cavities in rats: Influence on the regrowth of host retinal axons

Alan R. Harvey, Seng Khee Gan, Janice M. Pauken

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal neural tissue was transplanted into suction lesions of the left brachium and pretectal region in young rats. Tectal tissue was grafted into 6–18‐day‐old rats and cortical tissue was transplanted into 17–20‐day‐old animals. The aim was to determine whether grafts could potentiate the regrowth of damaged retinal axons and, as a consequence, stimulate the axons to reenter their host target, the superior colliculus (SC). Fifteen to 581 days after transplantation, host retinal projections were traced by injecting the right eye with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Parallel series of frozen brain sections were stained for HRP histochemistry, acetylcholinesterase, Nissl, or neurofibrils. At all ages studied, grafts survived and grew within the wound cavity; survival was better in the older animals. Most cortical grafts and a small number of tectal grafts filled the wound cavity and formed complete tissue bridges across the lesion. The majority of tectal grafts were attached to one or the other side of the lesion and were connected to the opposite lesion face by glial and connective tissue membranes that formed over the lesion site. In many animals that received tectal transplants, host retinal axons were traced growing into the grafts. Regenerating axons innervated specific, localized areas within the grafts, and it appeared that the axons retained the ability to recognize their appropriate target cells within the graft neuropil. Comparable ingrowth into cortical grafts was not observed. Optic axons were occasionally seen reentering the superficial layers of the host SC; however; compared to fetal tectal grafts, the density of host SC innervation was sparse. The implications of these data are discussed with regard to the possible use of fetal neural tissue grafts as reconstructive tissue bridges in the mammalian central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1987
Externally publishedYes


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