During the last decade, identification of the genes involved in familial forms of Parkinson's disease (PD) has advanced our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of different aspects of PD. However the available animal models still remain as the main limiting factor for the development of neuroprotective therapies that can halt the progression of the disease, through which we wish to provide a better quality of life for the PD patients. Here, we review the recently developed animal models based on overexpression of PD-associated genes using recombinant viral vectors. Recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors, in particular, have been very useful in targeting the nigral dopamine neurons both in the rodent and the primate brain. In order to provide insights into the establishment of these models in the laboratory, we will not only give an overview of the results from these studies but also cover practical issues related to the production and handling of the viral vectors, which are critical for the successful application of this approach.
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