Oxidative stress has been suggested to be an important mediator of dopaminergic cell death in Parkinson's disease (PD). We investigated the neuroprotective potential of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) overexpression in the rat substantia nigra (SN) following adenovirus-mediated gene transfer. Human dopaminergic SK-N-SH cells were transduced with adenoviral vectors expressing either human SOD1 (Ad-SOD1) or beta-galactosidase (Ad-betagal) before exposure to 1 mM of the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+). A strong neuroprotective effect of SOD1 gene transfer was observed in the SK-N-SH cells exposed to MPP+ compared with controls. Adult rats were then given unilateral injections of either Ad-SOD1 or Ad-betagal into the striatum, and MPP+ was administered 8 days later at the same location. Strong transgene expression was detected in the SN dopaminergic neurons, a consequence of retrograde axonal transport of the adenoviral particles. The amphetamine-induced rotational behavior of the rats was markedly lower in Ad-SOD1-injected rats than in control animals. Also, behavioral recovery significantly correlated with the number of tyrosine hydrolase-expressing neurons in the SN of the treated rats. These results are consistent with oxidative stress contributing to the MPP+ -induced neurodegenerative process. They also indicate that SOD1 gene transfer into the nigrostriatal system may be a potential neuroprotective strategy for treating PD.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.