Infusion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) into the brain of people with Parkinson disease induces the growth of nerve fibers in one of the brain regions affected by this disorder, as shown by a Correspondence article in the July 2005 issue of Nature Medicine.
In Parkinson disease, the chemical messenger dopamine is lost in a brain region known as the putamen, leading to the motor abnormalities characteristic of the pathology. Previously, a small clinical trial had shown that injection of GDNF directly into the putamen of people with the disease led to clinical improvement.
Subsequently, a second trial was halted due in part to safety considerations. Now, Seth Love and his colleagues have analyzed the brain of one of the patients that took part in the original trial and had improved after GDNF. They found that dopamine-containing nerve fibers had sprouted back in the putamen.
This is the first neuropathological evidence that infusion of GDNF in humans causes sprouting of dopamine fibers in association with clinical improvement in Parkinson disease. This finding might revitalize the interest in GDNF administration as potential therapy for this degenerative condition.
Seth Love (Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK)
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza