Relationships between various behavioural abnormalities and nigrostriatal dopamine depletion in the unilateral 6-OHDA-lesioned rat

J M Henderson, S Watson, G M Halliday, T Heinemann, M Gerlach
Behavioural Brain Research 2003 February 17, 139 (1): 105-13
While rotational asymmetry is used as a characteristic behavioural sign of striatal dopamine (DA) loss in unilateral animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD), there is relatively little analysis of how other common behavioural deficits relate to nigrostriatal DA depletion. We analysed the relationships between several deficits induced by unilateral 6-OHDA lesions and striatal neurochemistry, as well as neuronal loss in the dopaminergic substantia nigra (SN). Behaviour was evaluated from before until 6 weeks after surgery and abnormalities appeared in body axis, head position and sensorimotor performance as well as apomorphine-induced rotation. As expected, rotational behaviour correlated with striatal DA loss and not with other striatal neurotransmitters measured. Similar observations were found for sensorimotor deficits ('disengage task'). Both deficits were observed in rats with >70% loss of TH+ nigral neurons and >80% loss of striatal DA. Additional postural abnormalities appeared with mean losses of 87% of nigral DA neurons and 97% striatal DA, consistent with observations in patients with advanced PD. The data show that the repertoire of behavioural abnormalities manifested by hemiparkinsonian rats relate directly to the degree of nigrostriatal DA loss and, therefore, mimic features of PD. Analysis of such behaviours are relevant for chronic therapeutic studies targeting PD.

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