The transplantation of stem cells offers potential therapies for many neurodegenerative disorders that currently have limited or no treatment options. However, relatively little is known about how the host environment affects the development and integration of these cells. In this study we have engrafted immortalized human midbrain neural progenitor cells (NPCs) onto rat hippocampal brain slice cultures to examine the influence of a neural environment on differentiation. Patch clamp recordings revealed that the transplanted progenitor cells could express neuronal-type voltage-gated currents and rapidly receive synaptic input from the hippocampal brain slice. The distribution of progenitor cells across the hippocampal slices was strongly influenced by the neural architecture, with most cells located in the fissural regions and sending processes parallel to the laminar structure, while in contrast, cells located in the dentate gyrus showed no organized pattern. Almost no cells were found in the stratum radiatum or pyramidal cell layers. Together, these results demonstrate the potential for the architecture of the host environment to regulate the integration of transplanted cells, and highlight the utility of coculture systems for studying the mechanisms underlying the migration, integration, and differentiation of human NPCs in structured neural environments.,
Stem Cells and Development
Department of Neuroscience

Morgan, P.J, Liedmann, A, Hübner, R, Hovakimyan, M, Rolfs, A, & Frech, M.J. (2012). Human neural progenitor cells show functional neuronal differentiation and regional preference after engraftment onto hippocampal slice cultures. Stem Cells and Development, 21(9), 1501–1512. doi:10.1089/scd.2011.0335