Long-term intracerebral infusion of fibroblast growth factors restores motility and enhances F-DOPA uptake in parkinsonian monkeys

Justo García De Yébenes, Rosario Sánchez Pernaute, José María Garrido, Alberto Rábano, Julio Albisua, Ana Rojo, Maria Angeles Mena, Pedro García Ruiz, Pablo Jorge, Carlos Correa, Klaus Leenders, Angelo Antonini, Ilonka Gunther, Maria Psylla, Peter Vontobel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are important for dopamine neurons in health and disease. Acidic (aFGF) and basic (bFGF) fibroblast growth factors increase the survival and growth of dopamine cells. Nigrostriatal dopamine neurons, the target cells for degeneration in Parkinson's disease, display receptors for basic fibroblast growth factor and these receptors are decreased in the brain of parkinsonian patients. We have investigated the effects of long-term intrastriatal infusion of FGFs in hemiparkinsonian monkeys. All animals were lesioned with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6- tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), 0.4 mg kg-1, into the left internal carotid artery. The monkeys that had persistent asymmetric akinesia and contralateral rotation induced by apomorphine, were selected for chronic, unilateral, intracerebral infusion of neurotrophic factors or vehicle into the striatum ipsilateral to the lesion. Two animals received intrastriatal aFGF or bFGF, 2 μg week-1, for 6 months. The controls received intrastriatal saline or intraventricular epidermal growth factor (EGF). F-DOPA positron emission tomography scans were performed in each animal before and after the intracerebral infusion of neurotrophic factors. We measured the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactive neurons in the substantia nigra and terminals in the striatum and evaluated the pathological complications related to the treatment or the delivery system. All four animals had, after the lesion with MPTP, a transient but incomplete recovery of akinesia. This period of spontaneous improvement was followed by a progressive deterioration of motor behaviour during the following months. The monkeys treated with FGFs, however, recovered quickly and persistently during the intracerebral infusion. F-DOPA uptake, prior to the intracerebral infusion, was greatly reduced in the lesioned striatum. The post-infusion F-DOPA scans revealed a 60% reduction respect to baseline in the lesioned striatum of the saline and EGF-infused animals. In the animals infused with FGFs, the postinfusion F- DOPA uptake increased more than 400% in the lesioned (and infused) striatum and around 200-300% in the contralateral side, with respect to the pre- infusion scan. The number of TH-positive cells in the substantia nigra correlated well with the uptake of F-DOPA in the post-infusion scan. No severe side-effects were present. Intrastriatal infusion of FGFs restores motor behaviour and increases F-DOPA striatal uptake in hemiparkinsonian monkeys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • Fibroblast growth factors
  • Neurotrophic factors
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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