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Neurobiol Dis. 2007 Feb;25(2):378-91. Epub 2006 Dec 1.

GDNF applied to the MPTP-lesioned nigrostriatal system requires TGF-beta for its neuroprotective action.

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IZN, Department of Neuroanatomy, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 307, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


GDNF is a potent neurotrophic factor for nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD), but has largely failed when tested in therapeutic applications in human PD. We report here that GDNF requires transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) to elicit its neurotrophic activity. Lesioning the mouse nigrostriatal system with MPTP significantly upregulates striatal TGF-beta2 mRNA levels. As expected, GDNF protects against the destructive effects of MPTP, including losses of TH-ir nigral neurons, striatal dopamine and TH-ir fibers. Application of antibodies neutralizing all three TGF-beta isoforms to the MPTP-lesioned striatum abolishes the neurotrophic effect of GDNF. We show that TGF-beta antibodies are not toxic and do not interfere with retrograde transport of iodinated GDNF, suggesting that TGF-beta antibodies do not impair internalization and retrograde trafficking of GDNF. We conclude that striatal TGF-beta may be essential for permitting exogenous GDNF to act as a neuroprotective factor.

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