Cellular delivery of CNTF but not NT-4/5 prevents degeneration of striatal neurons in a rodent model of Huntington's disease

Dwaine F. Emerich, Susan Bruhn, Yaping Chu, Jeffrey H. Kordower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The delivery of neurotrophic factors to the central nervous system (CNS) has gained considerable attention as a potential treatment strategy for neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's disease (HD). In the present study, we directly compared the ability of two neurotrophic factors, ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), and neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5), to prevent the degeneration of striatal neurons following intrastriatal injections of quinolinic acid (QA). Expression vectors containing either the human CNTF or NT-4/5 gene were transfected into a baby hamster kidney fibroblast cell line (BHK). Using a polymeric device, encapsulated BHK-control cells and those secreting either CNTF (BHK-CNTF) or NT-4/5 (BHK-NT-4/5) were transplanted unilaterally into the rat lateral ventricle. Seven days later, the same animals received unilateral injections of QA (225 nmol) into the ipsilateral striatum. Nissl-stained sections demonstrated that the BHK-CNTF cells significantly reduced the volume of striatal damage produced by QA. Quantitative analysis of striatal neurons further demonstrated that both choline acetyltransferase (CHAT)- and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD)- immunoreactive neurons were protected by CNTF implants. In contrast, the volume of striatal damage and loss of striatal ChAT and GAD-positive neurons in animals receiving BHK-NT-4/5 implants did not differ from control- implanted animals. These results help better define the scope of neuronal protection that can be afforded following cellular delivery of various neurotrophic factors. Moreover, these data further support the concept that implants of polymer-encapsulated CNTF-releasing cells can be used to protect striatal neurons from excitotoxic damage, and that this strategy may ultimately prove relevant for the treatment of HD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages13
JournalCell Transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • CNTF
  • Fibroblasts
  • Genetic modification
  • Huntington's disease
  • Neurotrophic factor
  • NT-4/5
  • Polymer encapsulation
  • Quinolinic acid
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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