This is a commentary on the developmental and therapeutic relevance of recent studies in the glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP)-glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) transgenic mouse reported by Zhao et al. (2004). This interesting study demonstrated that increased expression of GDNF in astrocytes increases the number of neighboring motoneurons of certain motoneuron subpopulations by diminishing programmed cell death during development. In addition, astrocyte-derived GDNF was shown to protect facial motoneurons from injury-induced cell death. Since this is the first direct demonstration that secretion of GDNF from astrocytes in the CNS can affect motoneuron development in utero and motoneuron survival after axotomy, novel approaches for motor neuron disease are suggested. The known target neurons that respond to GDNF are reviewed, as are studies using GDNF gene delivery in animal models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is postulated that GDNF is a factor to which many motoneurons respond along their whole extent from soma to axon to terminal.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor
- Motor neurons
- Neurotrophic factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience