Consequences of nigrostriatal denervation on the gamma-aminobutyric acidic neurons of substantia nigra pars reticulata and superior colliculus in parkinsonian syndromes
To examine the effects of nigrostriatal denervation on the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr), one of the main outputs of the basal ganglia, we used quantitative in situ hybridization to analyze the messenger RNA coding for Mr 67,000 glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67 mRNA) in the SNpr neurons from patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), monkeys rendered parkinsonian by 1-methyl-4- phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), and their respective controls.
In MPTP-intoxicated monkeys, the expression of GAD67 mRNA was increased in the SNpr neurons, and the increase was reversed by L-dopa treatment. There were no differences in the level of GAD67 mRNA between PD patients who had been treated with L-dopa and control subjects. Combined with the previously reported increased expression of GAD67 mRNA in the internal segment of the pallidum of MPTP-intoxicated monkeys, these data suggest that the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABAergic) activity of the output system of the basal ganglia is globally increased by nigrostriatal denervation.
We also analyzed the level of GAD67 mRNA expression in the superior colliculus, a structure that receives the inhibitory influence of the GABAergic neurons of the SNpr and that is involved in eye movement control. GAD67 mRNA expression was reduced in both MPTP-intoxicated monkeys, whether or not they received L-dopa therapy, and PD patients, compared to their respective controls. This decrease may result from the hyperactivity of the inhibitory nigrotectal pathway, but also from other influences since it was not corrected by L-dopa therapy.
These changes may account for the slight ocular motor and visuospatial cognitive impairment occurring in PD, even after L-dopa therapy.
CITATION Neurology. 1996 Mar;46(3):802-9