Expression of a novel gene product by transplants of genetically modified primary fibroblasts in the central nervous system.
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Primary fibroblasts initiated from skin biopsies of Wistar rats were transfected with a plasmid that encodes the human growth hormone and the neomycin resistance genes. Cell clones selected for G418 resistance and expressing high levels of human growth hormone were propagated in vitro and subsequently transplanted into the cerebral cortex of adult allogeneic rats. Grafts were examined by immunocytochemistry at weekly intervals up to 2 months. Fibroblasts in the transplants survived and expressed growth hormone clearly up to 4 weeks, but showed reduced expression at 6 to 8 weeks. Significant levels of human growth hormone were also detected by radioimmunoassay in the serum of the host rats up to 1 month. The experiments demonstrate that primary fibroblasts can be genetically modified to deliver a new gene product into the central nervous system, and the gene product can pass the blood-brain barrier to enter the systemic circulation. This model illustrates the potential to introduce desired products into the brain through the genetic alteration of autologous primary fibroblasts.
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