Host Corticostriatal Fibres Establish Synaptic Connections with Grafted Striatal Neurons in the Ibotenic Acid Lesioned Striatum


Dr Klas Wictorin, Department of Medical Cell Research, Biskopsgatan 5, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden


The connections between host corticostriatal afferents and neurons in intrastriatal grafts of foetal striatal tissue have been studied with electron microscopic immunocytochemistry using Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) as a label of the host corticostriatal fibres. Adult rats with unilateral ibotenic acid lesions of the head of the caudate putamen received foetal cell suspension grafts from E14–15 rat embryos into the lesioned striatal area. Ten months after transplantation, multiple iontophoretic injections of PHA-L were made into the host frontal cortex. These injections labelled large numbers of corticostriatal fibres which extended across the graft - host border to form a rich axonal network mainly in the peripheral portions of the grafts. At the ultrastructural level a total of 134 PHA-L-labelled terminals were identified to form asymmetric synaptic contacts with neurons within the grafts. Of these contacts, 83% were in contact with dendritic spines, 12% with dendritic shafts, and 5% with small shafts or spines. The synaptic contacts were similar to those identified in intact regions of the host striatum that were spared by the lesion. However, the synapses in the host striatum were almost exclusively in contact with spines (98%). These results demonstrate that the corticostriatal projection, which constitutes a major source of afferent control in the normal striatum, not only extends axons into the intrastriatal striatal grafts, but also establishes synaptic connections with the implanted neuronal elements.