Host-graft relationships of isolated bovine chromaffin cells in rat periaqueductal grey

J. Sagen, G. D. Pappas, J. D. Ortega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The transplantation of chromaffin cells from the adrenal medulla into pain modulatory regions of the CNS has previously been shown to reduce pain sensitivity, most likely via local release of neuroactive substances from the transplanted cells. The ready availability of bovine adrenal glands, as well as the high levels of opioid peptides produced by their chromaffin cells, make these glands a potentially valuable donor source for antinociception studies. However, the success of these xenografts depends on their ability to survive and integrate within the host CNS. The aim of the present study was to assess host-graft relationships of bovine chromaffin cells transplanted to the rat CNS. We have found that isolated bovine chromaffin cells survive for at least three months in the rat periaqueductal grey, with no evidence of immunological response following a short-term course of immunosuppressant treatment. In the early stages following transplantation, only minor pathology is found at the injection site, which apparently recovers completely at later stages. The host-graft borders are not well demarcated, in contrast to solid tissue grafts. Neuronal processes of host origin, forming numerous synapses with the transplanted bovine chromaffin cells, are apparent by three weeks following transplantation. Migration also occurs from the graft into the host parenchyma, as evidenced by individual chromaffin cells found near host parenchymal blood vessels. The clusters of chromaffin cells found in the graft itself are generally not very vascular, in contrast to solid tissue grafts. The chromaffin cell clusters are surrounded by blood vessels of the non-fenestrated CNS type at the host-graft border. It is likely that the small size of the graft does not require extensive angiogenesis. The lack of fenestrated peripheral-type endothelial capillaries, normally seen in adrenal medullary tissue grafts, may contribute to the survival of these xenografts in the rat brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-707
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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