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Mol Ther. 2010 Aug;18(8):1536-44. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.107. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

Macrophage-mediated GDNF delivery protects against dopaminergic neurodegeneration: a therapeutic strategy for Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has emerged as the most potent neuroprotective agent tested in experimental models for the treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, its use is hindered by difficulties in delivery to the brain due to the presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In order to circumvent this problem, we took advantage of the fact that bone marrow stem cell-derived macrophages are able to pass the BBB and home to sites of neuronal degeneration. Here, we report the development of a method for brain delivery of GDNF by genetically modified macrophages. Bone marrow stem cells were transduced ex vivo with lentivirus expressing a GDNF gene driven by a synthetic macrophage-specific promoter and then transplanted into recipient mice. Eight weeks after transplantation, the mice were injected with the neurotoxin, MPTP, for 7 days to induce dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Macrophage-mediated GDNF treatment dramatically ameliorated MPTP-induced degeneration of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons of the substantia nigra and TH(+) terminals in the striatum, stimulated axon regeneration, and reversed hypoactivity in the open field test. These results indicate that macrophage-mediated GDNF delivery is a promising strategy for developing a neuroprotective therapy for PD.

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