Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington’s disease (HD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and Parkinson’s disease (PD), are characterized by changes in the levels and activities of neurotrophic factors (NTFs), such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments demonstrate in fact the linkage between wild-type huntingtin (HTT) and gene transcription and intracellular transport of BDNF. In the present chapter, we will analyze the involvement of BDNF in HD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We will discuss the current BDNF technologies focusing on stem cell therapies that induce BDNF upregulation, for instance, the method of autologous mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) culturing in the presence of cocktail of BDNF inducers and factors (MSC/BDNF), genetic engineering of MSC and their use as a vector for BDNF gene delivery, and combined method of establishment of embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived BDNF-overexpressing neural progenitors, which is still at the preclinical stage. Clinical trial that uses MSC/BDNF is already in course, while genetic engineering of MSC/BDNF is in perspective to treat adult and juvenile HD. The potential application of these technologies is beyond HD. Other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases also can be further included in the list of clinical trials that use MSC/BDNF or even ESC/BDNF-overexpressing neural progenitors.
Part of the book: Neurodegenerative Diseases