Histological, behavioural and neurochemical evaluation of medial forebrain bundle and striatal 6-OHDA lesions as rat models of Parkinson's disease

Hong Yuan, Sophie Sarre, Guy Ebinger, Yvette Michotte
Journal of Neuroscience Methods 2005 May 15, 144 (1): 35-45
We compared the effect of an injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) and into the striatum on different parameters for evaluation of motor dysfunction and dopamine denervation in rats, as a function of time. A combination of behavioural, neurochemical and histological techniques was employed. Amphetamine-induced rotation is shown to provide a first rough estimation of motor impairment. Indeed, the number of rotations observed after amphetamine administration can distinguish between a partial and a near complete (>90%) denervation in the substantia nigra. However, lesion sizes of 50-80% resulted in similar rotational behaviour. Similarly, the elevated body swing test (EBST) can determine severe lesions, but is not sensitive enough in the partial model. In both models, determination of the dopamine tissue content with HPLC is a more precise measure of striatal dopamine innervation than striatal TH-immunostaining. The number of cells estimated by TH- and Nissl-staining correlated well in the striatal model, but there was a discrepancy between both measures in the MFB-lesioned animals. Therefore, additional Nissl-staining is necessary for better estimation of the size of the lesion at the level of the substantia nigra or ventral tegmental area in the severely lesioned animals. The MFB lesion model mimics end-stage Parkinson's disease. The striatal injection of 6-OHDA described here cannot be considered a progressive model, since there was no change in the number of TH-immunoreactive cells in the substantia nigra up to 8 weeks post-lesioning. However, the partial denervation renders its quite suitable for mimicking early stage Parkinson's disease, and is thus suitable for testing possible neuroprotective and neurotrophic drugs.

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