Functional recovery in parkinsonian monkeys treated with GDNF

Don M. Gash, Zhiming Zhang, Aliza Ovadia, Wayne A. Cass, Ai Yi, Linda Simmerman, Deborah Russell, David Martin, Paul A. Lapchak, Frank Collins, Barry J. Hoffer, Greg A. Gerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

896 Scopus citations


Parkinson's disease results from the progressive degeneration of dopamine neurons that innervate the striatum. In rodents, glial cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) stimulates an increase in midbrain dopamine levels, protects dopamine neurons from some neurotoxins, and maintains injured dopamine neurons. Here we extend the rodent studies to an animal closer to the human in brain organization and function, by evaluating the effects of GDNF injected intracerebrally into rhesus monkeys that have had the symptomatology and pathophysiological features of Parkinson's disease, induced by the neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). The recipients of GDNF displayed significant improvements in three of the cardinal symptoms of parkinsonism: bradykinesia, rigidity and postural instability. GDNF administered every four weeks maintained functional recovery. On the lesioned side of GDNF-treated animals, dopamine levels in the midbrain and globus pallidus were twice as high, and nigral dopamine neurons mere, on average, 20% larger, with an increased fibre density. The results indicate that GDNF may be of benefit in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-255
Number of pages4
Issue number6571
StatePublished - Mar 21 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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