Brain delivery of microencapsulated GDNF induces functional and structural recovery in parkinsonian monkeys
Elisa Garbayo, Eduardo Ansorena, Hugo Lana, María del Mar Carmona-Abellan, Irene Marcilla, José Luis Lanciego, María Rosario Luquin, María José Blanco-Prieto


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) remains the most potent neurotrophic factor for dopamine neurons. Despite its potential as treatment for Parkinson's disease (PD), its clinical application has been hampered by safety and efficacy concerns associated with GDNF's short in vivo half-life and with significant brain delivery obstacles. Drug formulation systems such as microparticles (MPs) may overcome these issues providing protein protection from degradation and sustained drug release over time. We therefore sought to evaluate the efficacy and safety of GDNF delivered via injectable biodegradable MPs in a clinically relevant model of PD and to investigate the mechanism contributing to their beneficial effects. MPs were injected unilaterally into the putamen of parkinsonian monkeys with severe nigrostriatal degeneration. Notably, a single administration of the microencapsulated neurotrophic factor achieved sustained GDNF levels in the brain, providing motor improvement and dopaminergic function restoration. This was reflected by a bilateral increase in the density of striatal dopaminergic neurons 9 months after treatment. Moreover, GDNF was retrogradely transported to the substantia nigra increasing bilaterally the number of dopaminergic and total neurons, regardless of the severe degeneration. GDNFMP injection within the putamen elicited no adverse effects such as immunogenicity, cerebellar degeneration or weight loss. MPs are therefore a safe, efficient vehicle for sustained protein delivery to the brain, supporting the therapeutic benefit of GDNF when encapsulated within MPs for brain repair. Overall, these findings constitute important groundwork for GDNF-MP clinical development. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved