Behavioral, neurochemical, and electrophysiological changes in an early spontaneous mouse model of nigrostriatal degeneration

Paola Sgadò, Cristina Viaggi, Annalisa Pinna, Cristina Marrone, Francesca Vaglini, Silvia Pontis, Nicola Biagio Mercuri, Micaela Morelli, Giovanni Umberto Corsini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In idiopathic Parkinson's disease, clinical symptoms do not emerge until consistent neurodegeneration has occurred. The late appearance of symptoms implies the existence of a relatively long preclinical period during which several disease-induced neurochemical changes take place to mask the existence of the disease and delay its clinical manifestations. The aim of this study was to examine the neurochemical, neurophysiological, and behavioral changes induced by the loss of nigrostriatal innervation in the En1+/-;En2-/- mouse, in the 10 months following degeneration, compared to En2 null mutant mice. Behavioral analysis (Pole-test, Beam-walking test, and Inverted grid test) and field potential recordings in the striatum indicated that loss of ∼70% of nigrostriatal neurons produced no significant functional effects until 8 months of age, when En1+/-;En2-/- animals started to show frank motor deficits and electrophysiological alterations in corticostriatal plasticity. Similarly, alterations in dopamine homeostasis, dopamine turnover, and dopamine innervation were observed in aged animals compared to young En1+/-;En2-/- mice. These data suggests that in En1+/-;En2-/- mice nigrostriatal degeneration in the substantia nigra is functionally compensated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-181
Number of pages12
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Dopamine transporter
  • Engrailed
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Presymptomatic compensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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