Recombinant adeno-associated virus-mediated global anterograde delivery of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor to the spinal cord: comparison of rubrospinal and corticospinal tracts in the rat

UMMS Affiliation

Gene Therapy Center; Department of Pediatrics

Publication Date


Document Type



Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Animals; DNA, Recombinant; Dependovirus; Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay; Gene Therapy; Genetic Vectors; Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor; Immunohistochemistry; Male; Pyramidal Tracts; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Spinal Cord


Allergy and Immunology | Genetics and Genomics | Nervous System Diseases | Pediatrics


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by progressive loss of spinal lower motoneurons. Gene delivery is a promising strategy to deliver therapeutic molecules to these vulnerable cells. However, definition of an optimal route of delivery capable of accessing neurons over a considerable extent of the neuraxis represents a significant logistical problem. Intramuscular vector injections are not ideal as this approach would involve hundreds of injections to completely treat an ALS patient and also would be dependent on retrograde transport of the viral platform of choice. Alternatively, upper motoneurons could deliver trophic factors over considerable distances by anterograde transport after a relatively localized intracerebral injection. To test this approach, the present study was designed to compare the corticospinal (CST) and rubrospinal (RST) tracts for their ability to transport recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 5 (rAAV5)-derived green fluorescent protein (GFP) or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) to the spinal cord. Unilateral injections of rAAV5-GFP into the red nucleus (RN) or motor cortex of normal rats produced GFP-positive fibers in the appropriate descending tracts extending to the lumbar spinal cord. For both tracts, GFP-positive axonal projections into the spinal gray matter were consistently observed. GDNF immunohistochemistry demonstrated that confirmed RN injections resulted in GDNF-positive fibers projecting into spinal gray matter as seen in the GFP group. In contrast, confirmed cortical rAAV5-GDNF injections resulted in less evident staining in spinal cord. Spinal cord GDNF levels were elevated at distances up to 72 mm from the injection sites, and confirmed that RST-related GDNF transport to spinal cord surpassed CST-associated delivery.

DOI of Published Version



Hum Gene Ther. 2008 Jan;19(1):71-82. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Human gene therapy

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PubMed ID