Mice lacking alpha-synuclein have an attenuated loss of striatal dopamine following prolonged chronic MPTP administration.Neurotoxicology. 2004 Sep; 25(5):761-9.N
The functional role of alpha-synuclein in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD) is not fully understood. Systemic exposure of alpha-synuclein-deficient mice to neurotoxins provides a direct approach to evaluate how alpha-synuclein may mediate cell death in a common murine model of PD. To this end, wild-type and homozygous alpha-synuclein knock-out mice were treated with sub-chronic and prolonged, chronic exposure to 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). In the sub-chronic model, wild-type and alpha-synuclein knock-out mice were treated for five consecutive days with MPTP (1-25 mg/kg, s.c.) or vehicle, and sacrificed 3 days following the last injection. The prolonged, chronic model consisted of two injections of MPTP (1-20 mg/kg, s.c.) per week for 5 weeks, with co-administration of probenecid (250 mg/kg, i.p.), and animals were sacrificed 3 weeks following the last injection. Sub-chronic administration of MPTP caused a dramatic, dose-dependent decrease in striatal dopamine (DA) concentrations, while an attenuated response was observed in alpha-synuclein knock-out mice. Similarly, prolonged, chronic administration of MPTP produced a dose-dependent decrease in striatal DA concentrations, and a corresponding loss of striatal vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT-2) protein in wild-type mice. However, mice lacking alpha-synuclein had an attenuated loss of striatal DA concentrations, while no loss of striatal VMAT-2 protein was observed. Both sub-chronic and prolonged, chronic administration of MPTP caused an increase in the 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) to DA ratio in wild-type mice, but not in mice lacking alpha-synuclein. Despite attenuated toxicity, elevated lactate concentrations were observed in alpha-synuclein knock-out mice following prolonged, chronic MPTP administration. The results of this study provide evidence that alpha-synuclein null mice have an attenuated response to the toxic effects of MPTP exposure, even over prolonged periods of time and that the biochemical sequela of a protracted insult to nigrostriatal DA neurons are distinct between mice with and without alpha-synuclein expression.