An Inhibitory Approach to Parkinson's Disease

Science's STKE  15 Oct 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 154, pp. tw375-TW375
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.154.tw375

Individuals with Parkinson's disease have trouble walking and show pronounced hand tremor because the movement-controlling servomechanism in the brain loses the dopamine-containing cells of the subtantia nigra. Luo et al. now suggest a possible compensatory approach to therapy for this disease. The authors injected viral vectors containing the genes for glutamic acid decarboxylase (the enzyme that makes the inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) into the subthalamic nucleus of rats with artificially created Parkinson's symptoms. The overexcitatory cells in this nucleus also produced inhibition and so reduced the abnormal excitatory drive to the substantia nigra. The rats showed improvement in their Parkinson's-like disorder, and their dopamine-containing cells were protected from damage caused by further insult.

J. Luo, M. G. Kaplitt, H. L. Fitzsimons, D. S. Zuzga, Y. Liu, M. L. Oshinsky, M. J. During, Subthalamic GAD gene therapy in a Parkinson's disease rat model. Science 298, 425-429 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]