Comparative study of the neurotrophic effects elicited by VEGF-B and GDNF in preclinical in vivo models of Parkinson's disease

X. Yue, D. J. Hariri, B. Caballero, S. Zhang, M. J. Bartlett, O. Kaut, D. W. Mount, U. Wüllner, S. J. Sherman, T. Falk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGF-B) has recently been shown to be a promising novel neuroprotective agent for several neurodegenerative conditions. In the current study we extended previous work on neuroprotective potential for Parkinson's disease (PD) by testing an expanded dose range of VEGF-B (1 and 10. μg) and directly comparing both neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of VEGF-B in progressive unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) PD models to a single dose of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF, 10. μg), that has been established by several groups as a standard in both preclinical PD models. In the amphetamine-induced rotational tests the treatment with 1 and 10. μg VEGF-B resulted in significantly improved motor function of 6-OHDA-lesioned rats compared to vehicle-treated 6-OHDA-lesioned rats in the neuroprotection paradigm. Both doses of VEGF-B caused an increase in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive cell and fiber count in the substantia nigra (SN) and striatum in the neuroprotective experiment. The effect size was comparable to the effects seen with GDNF. In the neurorestoration paradigm, VEGF-B injection had no significant effect in either the behavioral or the immunohistochemical analyses, whereas GDNF injection significantly improved the amphetamine-induced rotational behavior and reduced TH-positive neuronal cell loss in the SN. We also present a strong positive correlation (p= 1.9e-50) of the expression of VEGF-B with nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes involved in fatty acid metabolism in rat midbrain, pointing to the mitochondria as a site of action of VEGF-B. GDNF showed a positive correlation with nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes that was not nearly as strong (p= 0.018). VEGF-B counteracted rotenone-induced reduction of (a) fatty acid transport protein 1 and 4 levels and (b) both Akt protein and phosphorylation levels in SH-SY5Y cells. We further verified VEGF-B expression in the human SN pars compacta of healthy controls and PD patients, in neuronal cells that show co-expression with neuromelanin. These results have demonstrated that VEGF-B has potential as a neuroprotective agent for PD therapy and should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Jan 31 2014


  • FATP1
  • FATP4
  • Human substantia nigra pars compacta
  • Mitochondria
  • Neuroprotective factors
  • Rodent 6-OHDA model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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