Fetal parietal cerebral cortex was transplanted to the anterior eye chamber of adult Sprague-Dawley rats. After two to three months the grafts, with or without colchicine treatment, were subjected to immunohistochemical analysis using antibodies against cholecystokinin (CCK), somatostatin (SOM), neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), peptide histidine isoleucine (PHI) and the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Cerebral cortex in situ of untreated and colchicine-treated rats was always analyzed in parallel.
A dense plexus of CCK-immunoreactive fibers was distributed in all parts of the transplants, and after colchicine treatment a large number of CCK-positive cells was observed. These cells were markedly increased in number as compared to normal cortical tissue in colchicine-pretreated rats. The amount of NPY-immunoreactive cells was also markedly increased, whereas somatostatin-positive cells were found in numbers similar to those seen in cortex in situ. In the grafts only a few VIP- and PHI-positive fibers were seen with a few VIP-positive cell bodies, but no clearly discernible PHI-positive cells. A very dense plexus of GAD-positive fibers with an even distribution throughout the grafts was observed. Cortex in situ exhibited a lower density of GAD-immunoreactive fibers. Even after colchicine treatment the number of GAD-positive cells in the grafts was low. Using double-staining techniques, it was found that most of the few GAD-positive cells in the grafts were also NPY-positive, SOM-positive or, to a minor extent, CCK-positive.
The present results demonstrate that several peptides and transmitter markers are expressed in cortical grafts in oculo, but marked differences in their expression can be observed in cortical tissue that has developed in isolation. Thus, the intraocular cortex graft, alone and in combination with other brain areas, should provide a useful model in which to study factors that regulate brain development.