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Keywords:

  • differentiation;
  • engraftment;
  • grafting;
  • mouse

Abstract

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are multipotent progenitors with unlimited developmental potential, and in vitro differentiated ES cell-derived neuronal progenitors can develop into functional neurons when transplanted in the central nervous system. As the capacity of naive primary ES cells to integrate in the adult brain and the role of host neural tissue therein are yet largely unknown, we grafted low densities of undifferentiated mouse ES (mES) cells in adult mouse brain regions associated with neurodegenerative disorders; and we demonstrate that ES cell-derived neurons undergo gradual integration in recipient tissue and acquire morphological and electrophysiological properties indistinguishable from those of host neurons. Only some brain areas permitted survival of mES-derived neural progenitors and formed instructive environments for neuronal differentiation and functional integration of naive mES cells. Hence, region-specific presence of microenvironmental cues and their pivotal involvement in controlling ES cell integration in adult brain stress the importance of recipient tissue characteristics in formulating cell replacement strategies for neurodegenerative disorders.