Transplantation of fetal cortical tissue into the motor cortex of adult rats was used as an experimental model to examine the functional integration of homotopic fetal neocortical grafts into the motor pathways of adult host brain. We have employed the [ 14 C]2-deoxy-d-glucose method to analyse the metabolic activity of the transplant and host sensorimotor cortex: (i) in animals solicited to perform specific lever-pressing movements with the limb contralateral to the transplant (experimental group); and (ii) in non-solicited animals or in animals using the limb ipsilateral to the transplant (control group). Grafts in the control group displayed homogeneous uptake of 2-deoxy-d-glucose throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the transplant. The local cerebral glucose utilization levels were low as compared to those of the surrounding cortex but were at least two-times higher than in the corpus callosum. Increase in 2-deoxy-d-glucose uptake by the transplant cells was found only in the experimental group. In this group, 2-deoxy-d-glucose uptake was higher in the caudal (AP: +3.0 to +1.7 mm, relative to Bregma) than in the rostral sectors of the transplants suggesting the existence of a topographic organization within the transplant. In addition, except in the rostral part, glucose utilization was higher in the transplant of the experimental group than in the sensorimotor areas of the non-activated cortex in the control group. Moreover, glucose utilization of the transplant cells was systematically higher in the experimental than in the control group. The transplants appear to display a certain level of metabolic integration with the host sensorimotor cortex since, in the experimental group, there was no significant differences in local cerebral glucose utilization values in the caudal sector of the transplant and in the surrounding sensorimotor cortical areas of the host. The 2-deoxy-d-glucose uptake was even higher in the caudal sector of the transplant than in some of the subfields of the contralateral sensorimotor cortex.The present findings indicate for the first time that motor activation of the contralateral forelimb produces an increase in metabolic activity in distinct transplant sectors, the topographic distribution of which matches the normal topographic organization of the forelimb somatomotor map. This suggests that transplants of embryonic frontal neocortex placed in the frontal cortex of adult hosts become functionally integrated with the host motor system. The present metabolic findings are in agreement with recent behavioral observations [Plumet et al. (1993) Restor. Neurol. Neurosci.6, 9–27] indicating that the deficit in skilled forelimb reaching resulting from a lesion of the motor cortex in an adult rat can be partially reduced following transplantation of embryonic frontal cortex.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.