Developing a preclinical model of Parkinson's disease: a study of behaviour in rats with graded 6-OHDA lesions

L Truong, H Allbutt, M Kassiou, J M Henderson
Behavioural Brain Research 2006 April 25, 169 (1): 1-9
Injection of increasing concentrations of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) can be used to establish a graded model of different clinical stages of Parkinson's disease (PD). We investigated the relationship between behavioural alterations and loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Forty female Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with either (i) 4 microg (ii) 8 microg or (iii) 16 microg 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to mimic the preclinical, mild and advanced clinical stages of PD, respectively. Vehicle was injected in a separate control group. Behaviours analysed included postural asymmetry, balance, locomotion, sensorimotor deficits and apomorphine rotation. At post-mortem the degree of tyrosine immunoreactive dopaminergic cell (TH-ir) loss was then estimated. There was a graded and consistent trend in each of the behaviours studied with respect to cell loss between the different sized lesion groups when examined using correlation analysis (all comparisons, r > 0.8, p < 0.001). Rats with large lesions demonstrated more significant behavioural changes over 8 weeks of testing than those with intermediate and smaller lesions (group comparisons p < 0.001). PD symptomatology became overt when cell loss reached 70%, however some significant changes can be observed with as little as 40% dopaminergic cell loss. Thus, injection with increasing concentrations 6-OHDA into the MFB can produce increasing extents of cell loss and behavioural changes, which were well correlated. This graded model can be useful for testing potential neuroprotective compounds for PD.

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