Intracerebral grafting of cultured autologous skin fibroblasts into the rat striatum: An assessment of graft size and ultrastructure

Michael D. Kawaja, Anne M. Fagan, Bonnie L. Firestein, Fred H. Gage

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42 Scopus citations


To identify a suitable donor cell population for gene therapy applications to the central nervous system, primary fibroblasts isolated from skin biopsies and maintained in culture are employed as autologous cells for intracerebral grafting within the adult rat striatum. Results from the present investigation reveal that cultured primary skin fibroblasts cease to proliferate once they reach confluence; these cells are thus contact inhibited in vitro. Following implantation within the striatum, the volume of the primary fibroblast grafts, stained immunohistochemically for fibronectin, does not differ significantly at 3 and 8 weeks. The graft size is dependent on the density of the cell suspension, but not dependent on either the number of passages the cells are taken through in culture prior to grafting or on the postoperative survival period. Ultrastructural evidence reveals that at 8 weeks the grafts are composed primarily of collagen and fibroblasts with rough endoplasmic reticulum and vesicles. Reactive astrocytic processes and phagocytic cells are also present in the grafts, The grafts are extensively vascularized with capillaries composed of nonfenestrated endothelium; intercellular junctions are evident at sites of apposition between endothelial cells. It is concluded that primary skin fibroblasts are able to survive for at least 8 weeks following intracerebral implantation and continue to synthesize collagen and fibronectin in vivo. Also, the grafts maintain a constant volume between 3 and 8 weeks, thereby indicating that primary skin fibroblasts do not produce tumors. Finally, dynamic host‐to‐graft interactions‐including phagocytic migration, astrocytic hypertrophy and infiltration within the grafts, and angiogene‐sis‐are features that constitute the structural integration of primary skin fibroblasts grafted within the adult rat central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-706
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 22 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • angiogenesis
  • autografts
  • electron microscopy
  • immunohistochemistry
  • reactive astrocytes


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