To explore the potential of using the recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vector, expressing glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) as the gene therapy for stroke, we injected rAAV vectors expressing GDNF (rAAV-GDNF) into the cortex of rats which had been experiencing transient bilateral common carotid artery ligation and right middle cerebral artery ligation for 90 min. GDNF levels in cortical tissues of rAAV-GDNF-injected animals were significantly higher than in the control animals injected with rAAV-expressing lacZ (rAAV-lacZ), indicating that rAAV can deliver and express the GDNF gene in cortical tissues. Triphenyltetrazolium chloride tissue stain analysis revealed that the rAAV-delivered GDNF gene could rescue the brain tissues from ischemia-induced injury. Cortical tissues which received rAAV-GDNF injections had both significantly smaller total volumes of infarction and smaller areas of infarction on each brain slice than those which were injected with rAAV-lacZ. An in situ labeling analysis demonstrated significantly less apoptotic cells in cortical tissues rescued by rAAV-GDNF, indicating prevention of apoptosis as the mechanism of cortical cell protection. Moreover, immunohistochemistry staining of Neu-N indicated that the rescued brain tissues contained the same number of Neu-N-positive neuronal cells as contralateral undamaged brain tissues. This provides strong evidence that cortical neuronal cells can be rescued by GDNF gene therapy. Indeed, these findings show that the rAAV is a potential delivery vector of GDNF gene for the therapy of stroke. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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