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Gene Ther. 2006 Dec;13(23):1639-44. Epub 2006 Jun 22.

Prevention of onset of Parkinson's disease by in vivo gene transfer of human hepatocyte growth factor in rodent model: a model of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease.

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Division of Clinical Gene Therapy, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SNi). As neurotrophic factors support the survival and enhance the function of dopaminergic neurons, gene therapy using neurotrophic factors has become the center of interest. Thus, we focused on hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) as a neurotrophic and angiogenic growth factor. At 7 days before injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the SNi, stereotaxic transfection of human HGF or lacZ plasmid was performed into the unilateral striatum of rats. Expression of human HGF in the injected sites could be detected in rats transfected with HGF plasmid DNA, using immunohistochemical staining. Consistently, human immunoreactive HGF protein could be detected at least up to 12 days after transfection. Interestingly, PD rats transfected with lacZ demonstrated amphetamine-induced rotational asymmetry. However, transfection of HGF plasmid DNA resulted in significant inhibition of abnormal rotation up to 24 weeks in a dose-dependent manner. Over 90% of dopaminergic neurons were lost in PD rats transfected with lacZ, whereas over 70% survived in rats transfected with HGF, as assessed by immunohistochemical staining. Overall, the present study demonstrated that overexpression of HGF prevented neuronal death in a PD rat model, providing a potential novel therapy for PD.

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