Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Neurol. 2004 Dec;190(2):356-72.

Overexpression of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor in the CNS rescues motoneurons from programmed cell death and promotes their long-term survival following axotomy.

Author information

Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury, Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


To study the role of one of the most potent motoneuron (MN) survival factors, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) derived from the CNS, we generated transgenic animals overexpressing GDNF under the control of an astrocyte-specific GFAP promoter. In situ hybridization revealed that GDNF was expressed at high levels in astrocytes throughout the brain and spinal cord. We analyzed the effects of CNS-derived GDNF on MN survival during the period of programmed cell death (PCD) and after nerve axotomy. In GFAP-GDNF mice at E15, E18, and P1, the survival of brachial MNs was increased on average by 30%, lumbar MNs by 20%, and thoracic MNs at P1 by 33%. GDNF also prevented MN PCD in several cranial motor nuclei. We demonstrated for the first time that the number of MNs in the mouse abducens nucleus was also increased by 40%, thus extending known MN populations that are responsive to GDNF. Next, we tested if GDNF could support complete and relatively long-term survival of MNs following neonatal facial nerve axotomy. We found that virtually all MNs (91%) in GFAP-GDNF mice survived for up to 18 weeks post-axotomy. This is the longest GDNF-mediated survival of neonatal MNs reported following axotomy. Most of surviving MNs were not atrophic, and MN-specific ChAT and neurofilament immunoreactivity (IR) were preserved. Furthermore, GDNF attenuated axotomy-induced astroglial activation. These data demonstrate that overexpression of GDNF in the CNS has very profound effects on MN survival both during the PCD period and after neuronal injury. GFAP-GDNF mice will be valuable to study the effects of CNS-derived GDNF in mouse models of MN degenerative diseases and axonal regeneration in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center