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Targeted repositioning identifies drugs that increase fibroblast growth factor 20 production and protect against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nigral cell loss in rats.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number8336
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Accepted/In press21 May 2019
E-pub ahead of print6 Jun 2019
Published6 Jun 2019


King's Authors


Endogenous fibroblast growth factor 20 (FGF20) supports maintenance of dopaminergic neurones within the nigrostriatal pathway. Moreover, direct intracerebral infusion of FGF20 protects against nigrostriatal tract loss in the 6-hydroxydopamine lesion rat model of Parkinson's disease. Increasing endogenous FGF20 production might provide a less-invasive, more translational way of providing such protection. Accordingly, we adopted a targeted repositioning approach to screen for candidate FDA-approved drugs with potential to enhance endogenous FGF20 production in brain. In silico interrogation of the Broad Institute’s Connectivity Map database (CMap), revealed 50 candidate drugs predicted to increase FGF20 transcription, 16 of which had profiles favourable for use in Parkinson’s disease. Of these, 11 drugs were found to significantly elevate FGF20 protein production in MCF-7 cells, between two- and four-fold. Four drugs were selected for examination in vivo. Following oral dosing in rats for 7 days, salbutamol and triflusal, but not dimethadione or trazodone, significantly elevated FGF20 levels in the nigrostriatal tract. Preliminary examination in the unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rat revealed a modest but significant protection against nigral cell loss with both drugs. Our data demonstrate the power of targeted repositioning as a method to identify existing drugs that may combat disease progression in Parkinson’s by boosting FGF20 levels.

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