Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor is neuroprotective in a model of Parkinson's disease

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We have recently shown that the hematopoietic Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) is neuroprotective in rodent stroke models, and that this action appears to be mediated via a neuronal G-CSF receptor. Here, we report that the G-CSF receptor is expressed in rodent dopaminergic substantia nigra neurons, suggesting that G-CSF might be neuroprotective for dopaminergic neurons and a candidate molecule for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Thus, we investigated protective effects of G-CSF in 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-challenged PC12 cells and primary neuronal midbrain cultures, as well as in the mouse 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model of Parkinson's disease. Substantial protection was found against MPP+-induced dopaminergic cell death in vitro. Moreover, subcutaneous application of G-CSF at a dose of 40 μg/Kg body weight daily over 13 days rescued dopaminergic substantia nigra neurons from MPTP-induced death in aged mice, as shown by quantification of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive substantia nigra cells. Using HPLC, a corresponding reduction in striatal dopamine depletion after MPTP application was observed in G-CSF-treated mice. Thus our data suggest that G-CSF is a novel therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, because it is well-tolerated and already approved for the treatment of neutropenic conditions in humans.

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