Functional recovery in parkinsonian monkeys treated with GDNF

Nature. 1996 Mar 21;380(6571):252-5. doi: 10.1038/380252a0.


Parkinson's disease results from the progressive degeneration of dopamine neurons that innervate the striatum. In rodents, glial-cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) stimulates an increase in midbrain dopamine levels, protects dopamine neurons from some neurotoxins, and maintains injured dopamine neurons. Here we extend the rodent studies to an animal closer to the human in brain organization and function, by evaluating the effects of GDNF injected intracerebrally in rhesus monkeys that have had the symptomatology and pathophysiological features of Parkinson's disease induced by the neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). The recipients of GDNF displayed significant improvements in three of the cardinal symptoms of parkinsonism: bradykinesia, rigidity and postural instability. GDNF administered every four weeks maintained functional recovery. On the lesioned side of GDNF-treated animals, dopamine levels in the midbrain and globus pallidus were twice as high, and nigral dopamine neurons were, on average, 20% larger, with an increased fibre density. The results indicate that GDNF may be of benefit in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • GDNF protein, human
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Dopamine