Glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) exerts potent trophic influence on midbrain dopaminergic neurons. This randomized controlled clinical trial was designed to confirm initial clinical benefits observed in a small, open-label trial using intraputamenal (Ipu) infusion of recombinant human GDNF (liatermin).


Thirty-four PD patients were randomized 1 to 1 to receive bilateral continuous Ipu infusion of liatermin 15μg/putamen/day or placebo. The primary end point was the change in Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor score in the practically defined off condition at 6 months. Secondary end points included other UPDRS scores, motor tests, dyskinesia ratings, patient diaries, and 18F-dopa uptake.


At 6 months, mean percentage changes in “off” UPDRS motor score were −10.0% and −4.5% in the liatermin and placebo groups, respectively. This treatment difference was not significant (95% confidence interval, −23.0 to 12.0, p = 0.53). Secondary end point results were similar between the groups. A 32.5% treatment difference favoring liatermin in mean 18F-dopa influx constant (p = 0.019) was observed. Serious, device-related adverse events required surgical repositioning of catheters in two patients and removal of devices in another. Neutralizing antiliatermin antibodies were detected in three patients (one on-study and two in the open-label extension).


Liatermin did not confer the predetermined level of clinical benefit to patients with PD despite increased 18F-dopa uptake. It is uncertain whether technical differences between this trial and positive open-label studies contributed in any way this negative outcome. Ann Neurol 2006