Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Anatomy and Neurobiology

First Advisor

Dr. Don Marshall Gash


Due to the blood-brain barrier, delivery of many drugs to the brain has required intracranial surgery which is prone to complication. Here we show that Dopamine Neuron Stimulating Peptide 11 (DNSP-11), following non-invasive intranasal administration, protects dopaminergic neurons from a lesion model of Parkinson’s disease in the rat. A significant and dose-dependent increase in an index of dopamine turnover (the ratio of DOPAC to dopamine) was observed in the striatum of normal young adult Fischer 344 rats by whole-tissue neurochemistry compared to vehicle administered controls.

Among animals challenged with a moderate, unilateral 6-hydroxy-dopamine (6-OHDA) lesion of the substantia nigra, those treated repeatedly with intranasally administered DNSP-11 exhibited greater numbers of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) positive dopaminergic neuronal cell bodies in the substantia nigra and greater TH+ fiber density in the striatum when compared to animals treated intranasally with vehicle only or a scrambled version of the DNSP-11 sequence. Lesioned animals that received intranasal DNSP-11 treatment did not exhibit abnormal, apomorphine-induced rotation behavior, contrasted with animals that received only vehicle or scrambled peptide that did exhibit significantly greater rotation behavior.

In addition, the endogenous expression of DNSP-11 from the pro-region of GDNF was investigated by immunohistochemistry with a custom, polyclonal antibody. Signal from the DNSP-11 antibody was found to be differentially localized from the mature GDNF protein both spatially and temporally. While DNSP-11-like immunoreactivity extensively colocalizes with GDNF immunoreactivity at post-natal day 10, the day of maximal GDNF expression, DNSP-11-like signal was found to be present in the 3 month old rat brain with signal in the substantia nigra, ventral thalamic nucleus, dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, with the strongest signal observed in the locus ceruleus where GDNF is not expressed. Results from immunoprecipitation of brain homogenate were not consistent with the synthetic, amidated 11 amino-acid rat DNSP-11 sequence. However, binding patterns in the literature of NPY, the only homologous sequence present in the CNS, do not recapitulate the immunoreactive patterns observed for the DNSP-11 signal.

This study provides evidence for a potential easy-to-administer intranasal therapeutic using the DNSP-11 peptide for protection from a 6-OHDA lesion rat model of Parkinson’s disease.