ND-13, a 20 amino-acids (aa) peptide, is composed of a 13 aa DJ-1-based peptide, attached to a TAT-derived 7 aa sequence, that serves as a cell penetrating peptide (CPP). TAT-derived CPP’s have previously been shown to facilitate the delivery into the central nervous system
Drugs currently used for treating Parkinson's disease patients provide symptomatic relief without altering the neurodegenerative process. Our aim was to examine the possibility of using DJ-1 (PARK7), as a novel therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease. We designed a short peptide, named ND-13. This peptide consists of a 13 amino acids segment of the DJ-1-protein attached to 7 amino acids derived from TAT, a cell penetrating protein. We examined the effects of ND-13 using in vitro and in vivo experimental models of Parkinson's disease. We demonstrated that ND-13 protects cultured cells against oxidative and neurotoxic insults, reduced reactive oxygen species accumulation, activated the protective erythroid-2 related factor 2 system and increased cell survival. ND-13 robustly attenuated dopaminergic system dysfunction and in improved the behavioral outcome in the 6-hydroxydopamine mouse model of Parkinson's disease, both in wild type and in DJ-1 knockout mice. Moreover, ND-13 restored dopamine content in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model. These findings validate DJ-1 as a promising therapeutic target in Parkinson's disease and identify a novel peptide with clinical potential, which may be significant for a broader range of neurological diseases, possibly with an important impact for the neurosciences.