Vesicular monoamine transporter-2 and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase gene therapy prevents development of motor complications in parkinsonian rats after chronic intermittent L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine administration

Exp Neurol. 2006 Jan;197(1):215-24. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2005.09.012. Epub 2005 Nov 2.


Motor complications after chronic L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) therapy occur partly because of the sensitization to dopaminergic agents resulting from pulsatile dopaminergic stimulation. The loss of presynaptic storage contributes to short duration of action by dopamine. Vesicular monoamine transporter-2 (VMAT-2) controls intraneuronal dopamine storage by packaging dopamine into synaptic vesicles, thereby allowing exocytotic release of dopamine. Using primary fibroblast doubly transduced with VMAT-2 and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) genes, we previously demonstrated the beneficial effects of such double gene transduction in the production, storage, and gradual release of dopamine in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we further evaluate the effect of achieving sustained level of dopamine within the striata by VMAT-2 gene on behavioral response of parkinsonian rats after chronic intermittent L-DOPA administration. Primary fibroblast (PF) cells were genetically modified with AADC and VMAT-2 genes. We grafted primary fibroblast cells, PF with AADC (PFAADC), or doubly transduced PF with AADC and VMAT-2 (PFVMAA) (n = 6 for each group) into parkinsonian rat striata and administered L-DOPA (25 mg/kg/day) intermittently for 4 weeks. For behavioral study, we employed a model of akinesia using forepaw adjusting steps (FAS) that have been well characterized to reflect the effect of the lesion and the antiparkinsonian effect of dopaminergic drugs and transplants. The duration of FAS response to L-DOPA was sustained for a longer duration in rats grafted with PFVMAA cells than in those grafted with either control cells or cells with AADC alone. In PFVMAA-grafted animals, prolonged duration of FAS responses to L-DOPA was sustained even 6 weeks after discontinuation of 4-week intermittent L-DOPA treatment. These findings suggest that the restoration of dopamine storage capacity could enhance the efficacy of L-DOPA therapy and attenuate the motor fluctuations that result from chronic intermittent L-DOPA administration. The gene therapy expressing AADC and VMAT-2 along with systemic L-DOPA therapy could provide a novel treatment strategy to prevent motor fluctuations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparkinson Agents / pharmacology*
  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Levodopa / pharmacology*
  • Medial Forebrain Bundle / drug effects
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Parkinson Disease / enzymology
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Subcellular Fractions / drug effects
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / genetics*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • SLC18A2 protein, human
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins
  • Levodopa
  • Aromatic-L-Amino-Acid Decarboxylases
  • Dopamine