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Open Access Compacted DNA Nanoparticle Gene Transfer of GDNF to the Rat Striatum Enhances the Survival of Grafted Fetal Dopamine Neurons

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Previously it was established that infusion of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) protein into grafts of embryonic dopamine cells has a neurotrophic effect on the grafted cells. In this study we used a nonviral technique to transfer the gene encoding for GDNF to striatal cells. Plasmid DNA encoding for GDNF was compacted into DNA nanoparticles (DNPs) by 10 kDa polyethylene glycol (PEG)-substituted lysine 30-mers (CK30PEG10k) and then injected into the denervated striatum of rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. Sham controls were injected with saline. One week later, experimental animals received either a ventral mesencephalic (VM) tissue chunk graft or a cell suspension VM graft implanted into the denervated striatum. Grafts were allowed to integrate for 4‐6 weeks and during this period we monitored spontaneous and drug-induced motor activity. Using stereological cell counting we observed a 16-fold increase in the number of surviving TH+ cells within tissue chunk grafts placed into the striatum pretreated with pGDNF DNPs (14,923 ± 4,326) when compared to grafts placed into striatum pretreated with saline (955 ± 343). Similarly, we observed a sevenfold increase in the number of TH+ cells within cell suspension grafts placed into the striatum treated with pGDNF DNPs when compared to cell suspension grafts placed into the saline dosed striatum. Behaviorally, we observed significant improvement in rotational scores and in spontaneous forepaw usage of the affected forelimb in grafted animals receiving prior treatment with compacted pGDNF DNPs when compared to grafted animals receiving saline control pretreatment. Data analysis for protein, morphological, and behavioral measures suggests that compacted pGDNF DNPs injected into the striatum can result in transfected cells overexpressing GDNF protein at levels that provide neurotrophic support for grafted embryonic dopamine neurons.

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Keywords: DNA nanoparticles; Gene transfer; Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF); Parkinson's disease

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Neurosurgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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