Intrastriatal implantation of fibroblasts genetically engineered to produce brain-derived neurotrophic factor prevents degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in a rat model of Parkinson's disease

J Neurosci. 1995 Dec;15(12):7810-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.15-12-07810.1995.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive loss of the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). Although various treatments are successfully used to alleviate the symptoms of PD, none of them prevents or halts the neurodegenerative process of the disease. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family of proteins, supports the survival and the differentiation of dopaminergic neurons. BDNF also prevents the death of dopaminergic neurons in vitro, which suggests that it may be of possible use in the development of neuroprotective therapies for PD. To determine whether BDNF is neuroprotective for SNpc dopaminergic neurons in the adult brain, we used a rat model of PD in which degeneration of 60-70% of these neurons was induced by an intrastriatal injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). We report here that intrastriatal grafts of fibroblasts genetically engineered to produce BDNF partially prevent the loss of nerve terminals and completely prevent the loss of cell bodies of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway that is induced by the intrastriatal injection of 6-OHDA. In contrast, the implantation of control fibroblasts that did not produce BDNF failed to protect nerve terminals and cell bodies against 6-OHDA-induced damage. Our observation that grafts of BDNF-producing fibroblasts protect against 6-OHDA-induced degeneration of SNpc dopaminergic neurons in the adult rat brain opens new perspectives for treatments aimed at the prevention of neurodegeneration in PD, using gene therapy and neurotrophic factors such as BDNF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / transplantation*
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Oxidopamine / pharmacology
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Oxidopamine
  • Dopamine