Decreased tyrosine hydroxylase content in the dopaminergic neurons of MPTP-intoxicated monkeys: effect of levodopa and GM1 ganglioside therapy
Kastner A, Herrero MT, Hirsch EC, Guillen J, Luquin MR, Javoy-Agid F, Obeso JA, Agid Y.
INSERM U289, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, Paris, France.
Parkinson's disease is characterized by the degeneration of melanized dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra. The functional capacity of the surviving dopaminergic neurons is affected, as suggested by the subnormal levels of tyrosine hydroxylase messenger RNA and protein found in the remaining cells.
The reduced expression of tyrosine hydroxylase may be due to either the evolving neurodegenerative process or its downregulation, possibly secondary to chronic levodopa treatment. The cellular content of tyrosine hydroxylase was determined in the mesencephalon from 16 Macaca fascicularis monkeys, using a semiquantitative immunocytochemical method. Thirteen monkeys were rendered parkinsonian by weekly intravenous injections of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) for 2 (subacute treatment) or 20 (chronic treatment) weeks. Three of the monkeys received levodopa and 3 others received GM1 ganglioside. The loss of dopaminergic neurons in the mesencephalon of the MPTP-intoxicated monkeys was severe in the substantia nigra, intermediate in cell groups A8 and A10, and almost undetectable in the central gray substance. After both subacute and chronic treatment, the cellular content of tyrosine hydroxylase was reduced by 40% in the surviving neurons of the lesioned substantia nigra, but by less in the other mesencephalic dopaminergic regions. Neuronal survival and tyrosine hydroxylase content in monkeys that had received levodopa were not significantly different. The cellular content of tyrosine hydroxylase was increased in the substantia nigra of the monkeys that received GM1 ganglioside injections.
The results show that the decreased expression of tyrosine hydroxylase found in nigral dopaminergic neurons after partial degeneration of the mesostriatal dopaminergic system is not influenced by levodopa treatment and is partially reversed by GM1 ganglioside administration.
CITATION Ann Neurol. 1994 Aug;36(2):206-14