The irreversible mitochondrial toxin 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NPA) is a specific inhibitor of succinate dehydrogenase. We performed stereotaxic unilateral injections of 3-NPA into the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway in rats in order to examine its specific effects on the dopamine system. The 3-NPA-treated rats displayed unidirectional apomorphineinduced rotations, suggesting that 3-NPA selectively damages dopaminergic neurons when injected into the nigrostriatal pathway. In situ hybridization 7 weeks postinjection indicated a decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA to 30% of the noninjected side in the substantia nigra pars compacta ( P < 0.05) and decreased to 62% of the noninjected side in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) (nonsignificant) of 3-NPA-lesioned rats. The number of TH mRNA positive cells showed statistically significant decreases in substantia nigra and VTA ( P < 0.001) within the lesioned side. In contrast, expression of mRNAs encoding choline acetyltransferase, p75 low-affinity NGF receptor, neurotrophin tyrosine kinase receptors Trk and TrkB, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor showed neuronal sparing in several other regions of the brain. The results suggest that the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system might be selectively vulnerable to 3-NPA and demonstrate that it is possible to employ 3-NPA in a model of partial lesion of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system resembling early stages of Parkinson's disease.
Experimental Neurology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 1995
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