A Combination of NT-4/5 and GDNF Is Favorable for Cultured Human Nigral Neural Progenitor Cells

Stefano Di Santo, Morten Meyer, Angélique D Ducray, Lukas Andereggen, Hans R Widmer

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Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, clinically manifested by cardinal motor symptoms including tremor at rest, bradykinesia, and muscle rigidity. Transplantation of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons is an experimental therapy for PD, however, it is limited by suboptimal integration and low survival of grafts. Pretreatment of donor tissue may offer a strategy to improve properties of transplanted DAergic neurons and thereby clinical outcome. We have previously shown that a combination of neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) demonstrated additive effects on rat ventral mesencephalic (VM) tissue. The present study investigated the effects of NT-4/5 and GDNF as single factors, or in combination on DAergic neurons, in organotypic explant cultures of fetal human ventral mesencephalon. For that purpose, free-floating roller-tube cultures were prepared from VM and the equally sized pieces grown for 1 week in the presence or absence of neurotrophic factors. Both neurotrophic factors increased dopamine content in the culture medium and in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive neurons, most prominently after combined GDNF + NT-4/5 treatment. Culture volumes did not differ between groups while content of lactate dehydrogenase in the culture medium was moderately reduced in all treated groups. In conclusion, we identified that a combination of GDNF and NT-4/5 robustly promoted differentiation and survival of human fetal VM DAergic neurons, an observation with potential promising impact for cell replacement approaches in PD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)648-653
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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