Clearance and toxicity of recombinant methionyl human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (r-metHu GDNF) following acute convection-enhanced delivery into the striatum

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e56186. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056186. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


Background: Despite promising early results, clinical trials involving the continuous delivery of recombinant methionyl human glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (r-metHuGDNF) into the putamen for the treatment of Parkinson's disease have shown evidence of poor distribution and toxicity due to point-source accumulation. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) has the potential to facilitate more widespread and clinically effective drug distribution.

Aims: We investigated acute CED of r-metHuGDNF into the striatum of normal rats in order to assess tissue clearance, toxicity (neuron loss, gliosis, microglial activation, and decreases in synaptophysin), synaptogenesis and neurite-outgrowth. We investigated a range of clinically relevant infused concentrations (0.1, 0.2, 0.6 and 1.0 µg/µL) and time points (2 and 4 weeks) in order to rationalise a dosing regimen suitable for clinical translation.

Results: Two weeks after single dose CED, r-metHuGDNF was below the limit of detection by ELISA but detectable by immunohistochemistry when infused at low concentrations (0.1 and 0.2 µg/µL). At these concentrations, there was no associated neuronal loss (neuronal nuclei, NeuN, immunohistochemistry) or synaptic toxicity (synaptophysin ELISA). CED at an infused concentration of 0.2 µg/µL was associated with a significant increase in synaptogenesis (p<0.01). In contrast, high concentrations of r-metHuGDNF (above 0.6 µg/µL) were associated with neuronal and synaptic toxicity (p<0.01). Markers for gliosis (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP) and microglia (ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1, Iba1) were restricted to the needle track and the presence of microglia had diminished by 4 weeks post-infusion. No change in neurite outgrowth (Growth associated protein 43, GAP43, mRNA) compared to artificial cerebral spinal fluid (aCSF) control was observed with any infused concentration.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that acute CED of low concentrations of GDNF, with dosing intervals determined by tissue clearance, has most potential for effective clinical translation by optimising distribution and minimising the risk of toxic accumulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacokinetics
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacokinetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / toxicity
  • Tissue Distribution


  • GDNF protein, human
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Recombinant Proteins

Grant support

Sources of funding: Functional Neurosurgery Research Fund and Medgenesis Therapeutix Inc. The funders had no role in data collection and analysis, or decision to publish.