Fetal frontal cortex was transplanted into lesion cavities formed in host motor/sensory cortex of adult rats. Eight to twenty-eight weeks later wheat germ agglutinin conjugated with horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) was injected into host thalamus and the brain was sectioned and reacted using a sensitive TMB procedure. A large amount of fine granular WGA-HRP was detected in most transplants. This could represent anterograde transport demonstrating that injured adult host thalamic neurons sprouted axons into fetal cortical transplants. Conversely, none or very few retrogradely labeled pyramidal neurons were present in the transplants. This indicates that pyramidal neurons in transplants either did not sprout into adult host brain or sprouted such short distances that they did not pick up the WGA-HRP. These results are compatible with the hypothesis that high trophic/growth factor levels in newborn or fetal brain and low levels in adults determine the more extensive connections seen in newborn hosts compared with those in adult transplanted hosts. The data are also consistent with the proposal that adult host brains impair axonal growth. Functionally, the data suggest that although corticofugal effects of fetal cortical transplants in adult host brains are likely to be limited, transplants could exert beneficial trophic effects on adult host thalamic neurons.
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