Chronic MPTP in Mice Damage-specific Neuronal Phenotypes within Dorsal Laminae of the Spinal Cord

Francesca Biagioni, Giorgio Vivacqua, Gloria Lazzeri, Rosangela Ferese, Simone Iannacone, Paolo Onori, Sergio Morini, Loredana D'Este, Francesco Fornai

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The neurotoxin 1-methyl, 4-phenyl, 1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropiridine (MPTP) is widely used to produce experimental parkinsonism. Such a disease is characterized by neuronal damage in multiple regions beyond the nigrostriatal pathway including the spinal cord. The neurotoxin MPTP damages spinal motor neurons. So far, in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients alpha-synuclein aggregates are described in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Nonetheless, no experimental investigation was carried out to document whether MPTP affects the sensory compartment of the spinal cord. Thus, in the present study, we investigated whether chronic exposure to small doses of MPTP (5 mg/kg/X2, daily, for 21 days) produces any pathological effect within dorsal spinal cord. This mild neurotoxic protocol produces a damage only to nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) axon terminals with no decrease in DA nigral neurons assessed by quantitative stereology. In these experimental conditions we documented a decrease in enkephalin-, calretinin-, calbindin D28K-, and parvalbumin-positive neurons within lamina I and II and the outer lamina III. Met-Enkephalin and substance P positive fibers are reduced in laminae I and II of chronically MPTP-treated mice. In contrast, as reported in PD patients, alpha-synuclein is markedly increased within spared neurons and fibers of lamina I and II after MPTP exposure. This is the first evidence that experimental parkinsonism produces the loss of specific neurons of the dorsal spinal cord, which are likely to be involved in sensory transmission and in pain modulation providing an experimental correlate for sensory and pain alterations in PD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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