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J Neurosci. 2002 Aug 15;22(16):6920-8.

Neuroprotective effects of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor mediated by an adeno-associated virus vector in a transgenic animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Center for Molecular Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Minamikawachi-machi, Tochigi 329-0498, Japan.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a relentlessly progressive lethal disease that involves selective annihilation of motoneurons. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is proposed to be a promising therapeutic agent for ALS and other motor neuron diseases. Because adeno-associated virus (AAV) has been developed as an attractive gene delivery system with proven safety, we explored the therapeutic efficacy of intramuscular delivery of the GDNF gene mediated by an AAV vector (AAV-GDNF) in the G93A mouse model of ALS. We show here that AAV-GDNF leads to substantial and long-lasting expression of transgenic GDNF in a large number of myofibers with its accumulation at the sites of neuromuscular junctions. Detection of GDNF labeled with FLAG in the anterior horn neurons, but not beta-galactosidase expressed as a control, indicates that most of the transgenic GDNF observed there is retrogradely transported GDNF protein from the transduced muscles. This transgenic GDNF prevents motoneurons from their degeneration, preserves their axons innervating the muscle, and inhibits the treated-muscle atrophy. Furthermore, four-limb injection of AAV-GDNF postpones the disease onset, delays the progression of the motor dysfunction, and prolongs the life span in the treated ALS mice. Our finding thus indicates that AAV-mediated GDNF delivery to the muscle is a promising means of gene therapy for ALS.

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