Glial Cell line-derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) Protein Expression and Distribution in Skeletal Muscle of Mice and Rats
Tarn, Christina Y.
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Neurotrophic factors are crucial to the development, function, and survival of neurons. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is considered the most potent survival factor for motor neurons. GDNF functions as a target-derived neurotrophic factor for neurons innervating skeletal muscle. Loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, which typically occurs with aging, has been proven to be linked to GDNF deficiencies. Overexpression of GDNF at the neuromuscular junction increases the number of healthy motor axons and also induces multiple end-plate formation and is therefore a powerful candidate for potential treatment of skeletal muscle and nervous system problems. In this study, we utilized immunocytochemistry to compare the extent and distribution of GDNF protein expression at the neuromuscular junction in mouse and rat diaphragm tissue. Images of the tissue obtained via laser-scanning confocal microscopy showed that GDNF is expressed similarly at the neuromuscular junctions of skeletal muscle of mice and rats. Because mice are more easily genetically manipulated than rats, they can serve as better models for studies of genetic diseases. This can now be applied to research regarding the use of GDNF as a survival factor for dying or dead motor neurons, and therefore holds promise in treating neuromuscular disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and Parkinson’s. In future studies, a better understanding of how and where GDNF is produced in skeletal muscle may help to identify potential sites for therapeutic intervention to increase neurotrophic expression.