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1.  The Immunological Challenges of Cell Transplantation for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease 
Brain Research Bulletin  2012;88(4):320-331.
Dopaminergic cell transplantation is an experimental therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD). It has many potential theoretical advantages over current treatment strategies such as providing continuous local dopaminergic replenishment, eliminating motor fluctuations and medication-induced dyskinesias, slowing down disease progression or even reversing disease pathology in the host. Recent studies also show that dopaminergic cell transplants provide long-term neuromodulation in the basal ganglia that simulates the combined effects of oral dopaminergic therapy and surgical therapies like deep brain stimulation, the contemporary therapeutic approach to advanced PD. However, dopaminergic cell transplantation in PD as not been optimized and current experimental techniques have many drawbacks. In published experiments to date of attempted dopaminergic grafting in PD, the major challenges are unacceptable graft-induced dyskinesias or failure of such grafts to exceed the benefits afforded by sham surgery. A deleterious host immune response to the transplant has been implicated as a major putative cause for these adverse outcomes. This article focuses on recent advances in understanding the immunology of the transplantation in PD and possible methods to overcome adverse events such that we could translate cell replacement strategies into viable clinical treatments in the future.
doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2012.03.001
PMCID: PMC3376210  PMID: 22521427
dopamine; nigrostriatal degeneration; central nervous system; immunosuppression; stem cells; retinal pigment epithelial cells
2.  The effect of striatal dopaminergic grafts on the neuronal activity in the substantia nigra pars reticulata and subthalamic nucleus in hemiparkinsonian rats 
Brain  2011;134(11):3276-3289.
The electrophysiological correlates of parkinsonism in the basal ganglia have been well studied in patients with Parkinson's disease and animal models. Separately, striatal dopaminergic cell transplantation has shown promise in ameliorating parkinsonian motor symptoms. However, the effect of dopaminergic grafts on basal ganglia electrophysiology has not thoroughly been investigated. In this study, we transplanted murine foetal ventral mesencephalic cells into rats rendered hemiparkinsonian by 6-hydroxydopamine injection. Three months after transplantation, extracellular and local field potential recordings were taken under urethane anaesthesia from the substantia nigra pars reticulata and subthalamic nucleus along with cortical electroencephalograms and were compared to recordings from normal and hemiparkinsonian controls. Recordings from cortical slow-wave activity and global activation states were analysed separately. Rats with histologically confirmed xenografts showed behavioural improvement measured by counting apomorphine-induced rotations and with the extended body axis test. Firing rates in both nuclei were not significantly different between control and grafted groups. However, burst firing patterns in both nuclei in the slow-wave activity state were significantly reduced (P < 0.05) in rats with large surviving grafts, compared to hemiparkinsonian controls. The neuronal firing entropies and oscillations in both nuclei were restored to normal levels in the large-graft group. Electroencephalogram spike-triggered averages also showed normalization in the slow-wave activity state (P < 0.05). These results suggest that local continuous dopaminergic stimulation exerts a normalizing effect on the downstream parkinsonian basal ganglia firing patterns. This novel finding is relevant to future preclinical and clinical investigations of cell transplantation and the development of next-generation therapies for Parkinson's disease that ameliorate pathophysiological neural activity and provide optimal recovery of function.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr226
PMCID: PMC3212711  PMID: 21911417
neural transplantation; Parkinson's disease; substantia nigra pars reticulata; subthalamic nucleus; electrophysiology
3.  The Antiparkinsonian and Antidyskinetic Mechanisms of Mucuna pruriens in the MPTP-Treated Nonhuman Primate 
Chronic treatment with levodopa (LD) in Parkinson's disease (PD) can cause drug induced dyskinesias. Mucuna pruriens endocarp powder (MPEP) contains several compounds including natural LD and has been reported to not cause drug-induced dyskinesias. We evaluated the effects of Mucuna pruriens to determine if its underlying mechanistic actions are exclusively due to LD. We first compared MPEP with and without carbidopa (CD), and LD+CD in hemiparkinsonian (HP) monkeys. Each treatment ameliorated parkinsonism. We then compared the neuronal firing properties of the substantia nigra reticulata (SNR) and subthalamic nucleus (STN) in HP monkeys with MPEP+CD and LD+CD to evaluate basal ganglia circuitry alterations. Both treatments decreased SNR firing rate compared to HP state. However, LD+CD treatments significantly increased SNR bursting firing patterns that were not seen with MPEP+CD treatments. No significant changes were seen in STN firing properties. We then evaluated the effects of a water extract of MPEP. Oral MPWE ameliorated parkinsonism without causing drug-induced dyskinesias. The distinctive neurophysiological findings in the basal ganglia and the ability to ameliorate parkinsonism without causing dyskinesias strongly suggest that Mucuna pruriens acts through a novel mechanism that is different from that of LD.
doi:10.1155/2012/840247
PMCID: PMC3445014  PMID: 22997535
4.  A Water Extract of Mucuna pruriens Provides Long-Term Amelioration of Parkinsonism with Reduced Risk for Dyskinesias 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2010;16(7):458-465.
Dopaminergic anti-parkinsonian medications, such as levodopa (LD) cause drug-induced dyskinesias (DID) in majority of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Mucuna pruriens, a legume extensively used in Ayurveda to treat PD, is reputed to provide anti-parkinsonian benefits without inducing DID. We compared the behavioral effects of chronic parenteral administration of a water extract of Mucuna pruriens seed powder (MPE) alone without any additives, MPE combined with the peripheral dopa-decarboxylase inhibitor (DDCI) benserazide (MPE+BZ), LD+BZ and LD alone without BZ in the hemiparkinsonian rat model of PD. A battery of behavioral tests assessed by blinded investigators served as outcome measures in these randomized trials. In experiment 1, animals that received LD+BZ or MPE+BZ at high (6mg/Kg) and medium (4mg/Kg) equivalent doses demonstrated significant alleviation of parkinsonism, but, developed severe dose-dependent DID. LD+BZ at low doses (2mg/Kg) did not provide significant alleviation of parkinsonism. In contrast, MPE+BZ at an equivalent low dose significantly ameliorated parkinsonism. In experiment 2, MPE without any additives (12mg/Kg and 20mg/Kg LD equivalent dose) alleviated parkinsonism with significantly less DID compared to LD+BZ or MPE+BZ. In experiment 3, MPE without additives administered chronically provided long-term anti-parkinsonian benefits without causing DID. In experiment 4, MPE alone provided significantly more behavioral benefit when compared to the equivalent dose of synthetic LD alone without BZ. In experiment 5, MPE alone reduced the severity of DID in animals initially primed with LD+BZ. These findings suggest that Mucuna pruriens contains water soluble ingredients that either have an intrinsic DDCI-like activity or mitigate the need for an add-on DDCI to ameliorate parkinsonism. These unique long-term antiparkinsonian effects of a parenterally administered water extract of Mucuna pruriens seed powder may provide a platform for future drug discoveries and novel treatment strategies in PD.
doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2010.04.015
PMCID: PMC2909380  PMID: 20570206
basal ganglia; 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA); nigrostriatal degeneration; movement disorders; complementary and alternative medicine

Results 1-4 (4)