Hydrogel-based delivery of Tat-fused protein Hsp70 protects dopaminergic cells in vitro and in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease

Marta Tunesi, Ilaria Raimondi, Teresa Russo, Laura Colombo, Edoardo Micotti, Edoardo Brandi, Pamela Cappelletti, Alberto Cigada, Alessandro Negro, Luigi Ambrosio, Gianluigi Forloni, Loredano Pollegioni, Antonio Gloria, Carmen Giordano, Diego Albani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) have no effective therapies. However, many promising drugs are precluded from clinical trials because of their poor brain availability. The chaperone protein Hsp70 has been reported to be effective in PD models, but its brain targeting is challenging. We developed a novel brain Hsp70 delivery system using injectable, biocompatible, and biodegradable semi-interpenetrating polymer networks of collagen (COLL) and low-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid (LMW HA) structured with gelatin particles. We produced human recombinant Hsp70-1A fused with the cell-penetrating peptide Tat (Tat-Hsp70) that was neuroprotective in vitro against the dopaminergic toxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). We assessed Tat-Hsp70 release from the selected COLL-LMW HA composites in vitro, observing a 95% release of loaded protein after 96 h. The release kinetics FITTED the Korsmeyer-Peppas model (regression coefficient 0.98) and the released Tat-Hsp70 remained neuroprotective for SH-SY5Y cells. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed that COLL-LMW HA composites lasted at least 96 h at the brain level, and in vivo Tat-Hsp70 release studies indicated that hydrogel presence is pivotal for a spatially focused neuroprotective effect. In an in vivo model of dopaminergic degeneration, Tat-Hsp70-loaded composites conveyed neuroprotection at both the behavioral and dopaminergic neuronal levels against the striatal injection of 6-OHDA. After the injection of Tat-Hsp70-loaded composites, mice showed a transient inflammatory response, with a decrease in GFAP and CD11b immunostaining after 7 days. Our delivery system enabled the effective brain release of Tat-Hsp70 and is ready for further improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalNPG Asia Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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