Interactions between fetal rat brain cells and mature brain tissue in vivo and in vitro

K. Marienhagen, P. ‐H Pedersen, A. J.A. Terzis, O. D. Laerum, H. Arnold, R. Bjerkvig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Fetal as well as mature neural cells were homografted into the right cerebral hemisphere of adult BD–IX rats. The animals were sacrificed 7 d after implantation, and the localization of implanted cells was visualized by fluorescence and light microscopy. The cell implants were prestained with the fluorescent vital dye 1,1′‐Dioctadecyl –3,3,3′3′‐tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (Dil) to discriminate between implanted cells and host brain tissue. At the implantation site, the fetal brain cells as well as the cells from immature brain cell aggregates showed diffuse infiltration into the surrounding host brain tissue of up to 0.5 mm. Extensive cell migration along the corpus callosum for up to 5 mm in the coronal and to a lesser extent in the sagittal plane was also observed. In addition, fetal cells were distributed in the subarachnoid space of both cerebral hemispheres and showed a distinct association with larger blood vessels. Cells from mature brain aggregates did not migrate as far as fetal cells and showed only a local infiltration into the host neuropil. Fluorescent microspheres as well as fixed fetal brain cells were implanted, either alone or in combination with vital cells to distin guish between active cell migration and passive cell displacement. The microspheres and the fixed cells were found either localized to the implantation pathway or distributed in the corpus callosum for up to 2 mm in the coronal plane without any dispersion in the sagittal plane. The microspheres also showed an extensive displacement in the subarachnoid space. In vitro co–culture experiments between two immature aggregates showed a complete fusion of the two aggregates during a 96 h culture period. In co–cultures between two mature aggregates complete fusion was not prominent, although the confrontation zone appeared diffuse. Confrontations between a mature and an immature aggregate showed the same pattern of interaction as seen for the two mature aggregates. It is concluded that carbocyanine dyes may be used as a tracer for transplanted cells. Cells from fetal rat brain cell aggregates, opposed to those from mature aggregates, showed extensive migration along well defined anatomical structures in the mature brain. Some of the spread of cells following implantation is probably due to passive movement since inert microspheres will spread into certain areas of the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-143
Number of pages14
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • fetal brain cells
  • migration
  • transplantation


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