Modification of the number and phenotype of striatal dopaminergic cells by carotid body graft.
We have studied the effect of unilateral autografts of carotid body cell aggregates into the putamen of MPTP-treated monkeys with chronic parkinsonism. Two to four weeks after transplantation, the monkeys initiated a progressive recovery of mobility with reduction of tremor and bradykinesia and restoration of fine motor abilities on the contralateral side. Apomorphine injections induced rotations toward the side of the transplant. Functional recovery was accompanied by the survival of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive (TH-positive) grafted glomus cells. A high density of TH-immunoreactive fibers was seen reinnervating broad regions of the ipsilateral putamen and caudate nucleus. The nongrafted, contralateral striatum remained deafferented. Intrastriatal autografting of carotid body tissue is a feasible technique with beneficial effects on parkinsonian monkeys; thus, this therapeutic approach could also be applied to treat patients with Parkinson's disease.