Glial fence stops neuronal intruders

Reactive glial cells prevent transplanted neurons integrating into the host retina

Andrea Rinaldi(
Jul 6, 2003

The central nervous system has a limited self-repairing capacity, chiefly because of poor neuronal regeneration following injury or disease. Neural cell transplant directly into damaged brains and retinas could be an effective therapy, particularly in the light of continuing stem cell research, but has so far been unsuccessful due to the failure of grafted cells to survive and integrate with surrounding neurons. In an advanced online publication in the July 7 Nature Neuroscience, Reiko Kinouchi and colleagues at Harvard Medical School identify why neural transplants have failed on previous occasions and suggest how it may be possible to make neural replacement therapy work (Nature Neuroscience, DOI:10.1038/nn1088, July 7, 2003).

Kinouchi et al. compared the outcome of retinal neuronal transplantation in wildtype mice with that in mice deficient in glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) and vimentin, two proteins that form the intermediate filaments of the cytoskeleton. GFAP and...