Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the loss of dopamine neurons in the substanfia nigra pars compacta, resulfing in severe motor symptoms, which include a tremor at rest, rigidity, bradykinesia, akinesia and postural instability. In addition to motor deficits, there are a variety of non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, including olfactory deficits, problems with gastrointesfinal mofility, sleep disturbances, sympathefic denervafion, anxiety, and depression. One of the promising areas of Parkinson's disease therapeufics is the administrafion of growth factors, such as glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Unfortunately, trials with GDNF and BDNF have not been successful, which is due, in part, to drug delivery and pharmacokinefic limitations. In collaboration with the Ye laboratory at Emory University, we have identified a class of orally active TrkB agonists that appear to recapitulate many of the actions of BDNF. Here we propose to test these novel compounds for their ability to restore funcfion in several animal models of Parkinson's disease. Based on preliminary evidence, we hypothesize that our novel orally-active TrkB agonists will restore function in these animal models. To test this hypothesis we propose to determine the ability of the novel TrkB agonists to restore funcfion in the MPTP mouse model (aim 1), to determine the anfiparkinsonian efficacy of the TrkB agonists in a chronic and progressive animal model of the disease that displays motor and non-motor deficits (VMAT2 LO mice, aim 2), and to determine the ability of these compounds to activate TrkB and alleviate symptoms in a non-human primate model of PD. Complefion of these specific aims will help us to determine the potential utility of selecfive and orally-acfive TrkB agonists as a therapeufic intervenfion for Parkinson's disease and posifion us to apply for further support from the NINDS Translafional Research Program.

Public Health Relevance

Parkinson's disease afflicts over one million U.S. citizens. Current dopaminergic treatments have limited efficacy, and often problematic side effects. This project is designed to test a new potential therapeutic intervenfion for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1)
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Emory University
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