Continuous subcutaneous infusion of apomorphine rescues nigro-striatal dopaminergic terminals following MPTP injection in mice

G. Battaglia, C. L. Busceti, L. Cuomo, F. S. Giorgi, F. Orzi, A. De Blasi, F. Nicoletti, S. Ruggieri, F. Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apomorphine has been introduced in the treatment of late-stage Parkinson's Disease (PD). The disadvantage of a short half-life of apomorphine is now overcome by the use of a continuous subcutaneous (s.c.) self-delivering system. We examined whether continuous s.c. infusion of apomorphine rescues nigro-striatal dopaminergic neurons from toxicity induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in mice. Apomorphine was continuously infused in mice by means of a s.c. minipump that delivered the drug at a rate of 0.5 or 3.15 mg/kg/day. MPTP induced a >80% reduction in striatal dopamine (DA) after one day. DA levels were still substantially reduced one month following MPTP injection, in spite of a partial recovery. Similarly, striatal immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter was markedly reduced at this time interval. Continuous s.c. infusion of apomorphine starting 40 h following MPTP injection rescued striatal dopaminergic terminals, as assessed by measurements of DA and its metabolites, as well as TH and DAT immunostaining after one month. The neurorescuing effect was more remarkable at a delivery rate of 3.15 mg/kg/day of apomorphine. In contrast, no rescue was observed when apomorphine was administered as a single daily s.c. bolus of 1 or 5 mg/kg starting 40 h following MPTP. We conclude that apomorphine is able to rescue nigro-striatal dopaminergic neurons when continuously delivered at doses that are comparable to those delivered by minipumps in PD patients. These results suggest that continuous s.c. infusion of apomorphine not only relieves the symptoms, but also reduce the ongoing degeneration of nigro-striatal dopaminergic neurons in PD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-373
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Apomorphine infusion
  • Dopaminergic terminals
  • MPTP
  • Neuroprotection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology


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