Membrane-permeable Bcl-xL prevents MPTP-induced dopaminergic neuronal loss in the substantia nigra

Gunnar P.H. Dietz, Kerstin V. Stockhausen, Birgit Dietz, Björn H. Falkenburger, Paola Valbuena, Felipe Opazo, Paul Lingor, Katrin Meuer, Jochen H. Weishaupt, Jörg B. Schulz, Mathias Bähr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL is a promising agent to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease, which is characterized by a demise of dopaminergic neurons. We linked Bcl-xL to a peptide that allows its delivery across biological membranes and the blood-brain barrier. We tested the fusion protein in two models of Parkinson's Disease. Cell-permeable Bcl-x L protected neuroblastoma cells from the selective neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium. Furthermore, its systemic application in aged mice protected dopaminergic neurons following administration of MPTP as revealed by counting of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Hence, we present that a cell-permeable form of an anti-apoptotic protein can be delivered to CNS neurons through its systemic application, and we provide the proof that the delivery of this protein to the CNS neurons effectively prevents neuronal cell death in models of chronic neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-765
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell penetrating peptide
  • HIV-Tat
  • Primary dopaminergic midbrain culture
  • Protein transduction domain
  • Trojan horse peptide


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