Journal article Open Access
Van der Perren, Anke; Casteels, Cindy; Van Laere, Koen; Gijsbers, Rik; Van den Haute, Chris; Baekelandt, Veerle
In order to study the molecular pathways of Parkinson's disease (PD) and to develop novel therapeutic strategies, scientific investigators rely on animal models. The identification of PD-associated genes has led to the development of genetic PD models. Most transgenic α-SYN mouse models develop gradual α-SYN pathology but fail to display clear dopaminergic cell loss and dopamine-dependent behavioral deficits. This hurdle was overcome by direct targeting of the substantia nigra with viral vectors overexpressing PD-associated genes. Local gene delivery using viral vectors provides an attractive way to express transgenes in the central nervous system. Specific brain regions can be targeted (e.g. the substantia nigra), expression can be induced in the adult setting and high expression levels can be achieved. Further, different vector systems based on various viruses can be used. The protocol outlines all crucial steps to perform a viral vector injection in the substantia nigra of the rat to develop a viral vector-based alpha-synuclein animal model for Parkinson's disease.