Pharmacological antagonism of kainate receptor rescues dysfunction and loss of dopamine neurons in a mouse model of human parkin-induced toxicity

M. Regoni, S. Cattaneo, D. Mercatelli, S. Novello, A. Passoni, R. Bagnati, E. Davoli, L. Croci, G.G. Consalez, F. Albanese, L. Zanetti, M. Passafaro, G.M. Serratto, A. Di Fonzo, F. Valtorta, A. Ciammola, S. Taverna, M. Morari, J. Sassone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mutations in the PARK2 gene encoding the protein parkin cause autosomal recessive juvenile Parkinsonism (ARJP), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by dysfunction and death of dopamine (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Since a neuroprotective therapy for ARJP does not exist, research efforts aimed at discovering targets for neuroprotection are critically needed. A previous study demonstrated that loss of parkin function or expression of parkin mutants associated with ARJP causes an accumulation of glutamate kainate receptors (KARs) in human brain tissues and an increase of KAR-mediated currents in neurons in vitro. Based on the hypothesis that such KAR hyperactivation may contribute to the death of nigral DA neurons, we investigated the effect of KAR antagonism on the DA neuron dysfunction and death that occur in the parkinQ311X mouse, a model of human parkin-induced toxicity. We found that early accumulation of KARs occurs in the DA neurons of the parkinQ311X mouse, and that chronic administration of the KAR antagonist UBP310 prevents DA neuron loss. This neuroprotective effect is associated with the rescue of the abnormal firing rate of nigral DA neurons and downregulation of GluK2, the key KAR subunit. This study provides novel evidence of a causal role of glutamate KARs in the DA neuron dysfunction and loss occurring in a mouse model of human parkin-induced toxicity. Our results support KAR as a potential target in the development of neuroprotective therapy for ARJP.

Original languageItalian
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Cite this