Motor Neurons Pathology After Chronic Exposure to MPTP in Mice

Giorgio Vivacqua, Francesca Biagioni, Carla L Busceti, Michela Ferrucci, Michele Madonna, Larisa Ryskalin, Shun Yu, 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 in rodents and primates. Among different administration protocols, continuous or chronic exposure to small amounts of MPTP is reported to better mimic cell pathology reminiscent of Parkinson's disease (PD). Catecholamine neurons are the most sensitive to MPTP neurotoxicity; however, recent studies have found that MPTP alters the fine anatomy of the spinal cord including motor neurons, thus overlapping again with the spinal cord involvement documented in PD. In the present study, we demonstrate that chronic exposure to low amounts of MPTP (10 mg/kg daily, × 21 days) significantly reduces motor neurons in the ventral lumbar spinal cord while increasing α-synuclein immune-staining within the ventral horn. Spinal cord involvement in MPTP-treated mice extends to Calbindin D28 KDa immune-reactive neurons other than motor neurons within lamina VII. These results were obtained in the absence of significant reduction of dopaminergic cell bodies in the Substantia Nigra pars compacta, while a slight decrease was documented in striatal tyrosine hydroxylase immune-staining. Thus, the present study highlights neuropathological similarities between dopaminergic neurons and spinal motor neurons and supports the pathological involvement of spinal cord in PD and experimental MPTP-induced parkinsonism. Remarkably, the toxic threshold for motor neurons appears to be lower compared with nigral dopaminergic neurons following a chronic pattern of MPTP intoxication. This sharply contrasts with previous studies showing that MPTP intoxication produces comparable neuronal loss within spinal cord and Substantia Nigra.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurotoxicity Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 13 2019


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