Transplanted cells found to also be affected by disease.

Scientists reported that neurons grafted into the brain of a patient with Parkinsons disease 14 years ago developed Lewy body pathology, the defining pathology for the disease.

In the impacted study, individuals with Parkinsons disease received fetal cell transplants to reverse the loss in the brain of striatal dopamine. The patient affected, a woman with a 22-year history of Parkinsons disease who underwent transplantation in 1993, had the longest survival after transplantation that had been reported to date among the study’s participants. 

The finding suggests that Parkinsons disease can affect cells grafted into the brain in the same way the disease affects host dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain, according to the researchers.

After transplantation, the patient experienced improvements in disease symptoms into1997, but exhibited progressive worsening of disease symptoms by 2004 and died in 2007.

Studies that followed did not establish clinical benefit although significant improvement was observed in a subpopulation of patients. Post-mortem studies of individuals in these studies showed a robust survival of grafted neurons, suggesting that the cells were not affected by Parkinsons, but the researchers now think that the individuals did not live long enough for the Parkinsons disease pathology to develop in the grafted cells.

Involved researchers came from Rush University Medical Center, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and the University of South Florida, Tampa. The study was published in the April 6 issue of Nature Medicine.

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