Object. Transplantation of fetal dopaminergic tissue is being investigated in animal models and clinical trials for its potential as a treatment for advanced Parkinson disease. At the same time, the availability of fetal tissue is limited, making its storage time prior to transplantation a key practical issue. Although it results in a smaller percentage of surviving cells, a longer storage time enables fetal tissue obtained over several days to be pooled for transplantation in a recipient. Glial cell line—derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has been shown to improve survival of human dopaminergic tissue that has been stored prior to transplantation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects on fetal dopaminergic tissue of GDNF-supplemented hibernation for extended periods of 6 to 15 days.
Methods. The ventral mesencephalon (VM) was harvested in a total of 27 14-day-old rat fetuses, and three VMs were cultured immediately (fresh control group). The remaining 24 VMs were divided sagittally along the midline to yield 48 equal pieces of hemimesencephalon. Twenty-four pieces were stored with GDNF-supplemented hibernation medium for 6, 9, 12, or 15 days, and the 24 “partner” hemimesencephalon pieces were stored in control hibernation medium for the same periods of time. Tissue was cultured for 48 hours and processed for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity and double-stained with cresyl violet. Cell counts for all cultures and the percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells were obtained. The percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells for the fresh control group was 6.3 ± 0.5%. The percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells in cultures derived from tissue stored in GDNF-supplemented medium was significantly increased at 6 and 9 days posthibernation compared with the fresh control group and the “partner” groups stored in hibernation medium only. No significant increase in the percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells was observed in the 12- and 15-day groups.
Conclusions. In this study the authors have demonstrated that fetal dopaminergic tissue can be safely stored for up to 9 days in GDNF-supplemented hibernation medium. Furthermore, the percentage of TH-immunoreactive cells is significantly increased after 6 and 9 days of storage in this medium, improving the yield of TH-immunoreactive cells prior to transplantation. These observations have practical clinical implications for collecting fetal dopaminergic cells and improving their survival after transplantation.