The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-family of neurotrophic factors consisted until recently of three members, GDNF, neurturin, and persephin. We describe here the cloning of a new GDNF-family member, neublastin (NBN), identical to artemin (ART), recently published (Baloh et al., 1998). Addition of NBN/ART to cultures of fetal mesencephalic dopamine (DA) neurons increased the number of surviving tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive neurons by approximately 70%, similar to the maximal effect obtained with GDNF. To investigate the neuroprotective effects in vivo, lentiviral vectors carrying the cDNA for NBN/ART or GDNF were injected into the striatum and ventral midbrain. Three weeks after an intrastriatal 6-hydroxydopamine lesion only about 20% of the nigral DA neurons were left in the control group, while 80-90% of the DA neurons remained in the NBN/ART and GDNF treatment groups, and the striatal TH-immunoreactive innervation was partly spared. We conclude that NBN/ART, similarly to GDNF, is a potent neuroprotective factor for the nigrostriatal DA neurons in vivo.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.