Growth of tumour cell lines in polymer capsules: ultrastructure of encapsulated PC12 cells.
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J Neurocytol 21 (7): 469-80 (1992)

Recent studies indicate that polymer-encapsulated PC12 cells release sufficient amounts of dopamine to significantly alter behavioural paradigms in animals with unilateral lesions of dopaminergic midbrain neurons. Because cell fine structure provides a useful measure for assessment of storage function, exocytosis, metabolism, cell activity and cell viability, we examined the ultrastructure of PC12 cells grown in semi-permeable polymer capsules maintained in vitro or implanted into the forebrain of rats or guinea pigs. Encapsulated PC12 cells remained viable and continued to divide for the entire evaluation period of six months. Overall morphologies of encapsulated PC12 cells were similar in both environments and they resembled PC12 cells grown in monolayer cultures. In short-term cultures, encapsulated PC12 cells typically contained abundant quantities of chromaffin cell-like granules. The encapsulated cells had initially abundant microvilli on their surfaces which decline in frequency over time. After long-term enclosure for ten weeks or more, fewer secretory granules were detected in the cytoplasm of cells in capsules cultured in vitro and in brain-implanted capsules. Some cells in implanted capsules had long slender filipodia that were not present on PC12 cells in cultured capsules. The morphological changes of PC12 cells may correlate with altered growth conditions such as serum and oxygen concentrations, the presence or absence of growth factors in different environments, and with changes of cell interactions related to cell densities and build up of debris within the capsules over time. Since dopaminergic PC12 pheochromocytoma cells remain viable in semi-permeable polymer capsules for at least six months, such 'cell-capsules' could provide an alternative to dopamine-secreting embryonic neural grafts in dopamine replacement therapies.
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