Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)


Neuromodulation for Parkinson's disease

Jun Takahashi, M.D.

Department of Biological Repair, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive loss of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons and a subsequent reduction in striatal dopamine. As a treatment for advanced Parkinson's disease, deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus was introduced in 1987 to treat tremor, and was applied in 1993 to the subthalamic nucleus. Now high-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus has become a surgical therapy of choice.
Another surgical treatment is a cell replacement therapy. Transplantation of fetal dopaminergic (DA) neurons can produce symptomatic relief, however, the technical and ethical difficulties in obtaining sufficient and appropriate donor fetal brain tissue have limited the application of this therapy. Then, neural precursor cells and embryonic stem (ES) cells are expected to be candidates of potential donor cells for transplantation. We induced DA neurons from monkey ES cells, and analyzed the effect of transplantation of the DA neurons into MPTP-treated monkeys as a primate model of Parkinson's disease. Behavioral studies and functional imaging revealed that the transplanted cells functioned as DA neurons, attenuating the MPTP-induced neurological symptoms. DA neurons have also been generated from several human ES cell lines. Furthermore, functional recovery of rat PD models after transplantation was observed. One of the major problems in ES cell transplantation is tumor formation, which is caused by a small fraction of undifferentiated ES cells in the graft. So, it is essential for undifferentiated ES cells to be eliminated from the graft in order for transplantation to be feasible. These efforts will lead to clinical application of ES cell transplantation to the patients with PD.
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(CLINICA NEUROL, 48: 233|241, 2008)
key words: deep brain stimulation, cell transplantation, neural stem cell, embryonic stem cell

(Received: 8-Jan-08)