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ABSTRACT: Neuronal cell death and the failure of axonal regeneration cause a permanent functional deficit following spinal cord injury (SCI). Administration of recombinant glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has previously been reported to rescue neurons following severe SCI, resulting in improved hindlimb locomotion in rats. In this study, thus, GDNF gene therapy using an adenoviral vector (rAd-GDNF) was examined in rats following SCI induced by dropping the NYU weight-drop impactor from a height of 25 mm onto spinal segment T9-T10. To evaluate the efficacy of intraspinal injection of recombinant adenovirus into the injured spinal cord, we observed green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene transfer in the contused spinal cord. GFP was effectively expressed in the injured spinal cord, and the most prominently transduced cells were astrocytes. The expression of GDNF was detected only in rats receiving rAd-GDNF, not the controls, and remained detectable around the injured site for at least 8 days. Open-field locomotion analysis revealed that rats receiving rAd-GDNF exhibited improved locomotor function and hindlimb weight support compared to the control groups. Immunohistochemical examination for the neuronal marker, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), showed an increase in CGRP+ neuronal fibers in the injured spinal cord in rats receiving rAd-GDNF treatment. Collectively, the results suggest that adenoviral gene transfer of GDNF can preserve neuronal fibers and promote hindlimb locomotor recovery from spinal cord contusion. This research should provide information for developing a clinical strategy for GDNF gene therapy.
Experimental Neurology 11/2003; 183(2):508-15. · 4.65 Impact Factor