MRI detects acute degeneration of the nigrostriatal dopamine system after MPTP exposure in hemiparkinsonian monkeys

R S Miletich, K S Bankiewicz, M Quarantelli, R J Plunkett, J Frank, I J Kopin, G Di Chiro
Annals of Neurology 1994, 35 (6): 689-97
Exposure to 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) can cause an acute chemical toxicity resulting in a parkinsonian state in humans and nonhuman primates. We wished to assess whether the toxicity from MPTP is associated with changes on magnetic resonance images of brain structures containing dopamine neuronal processes or with disrupture of the blood-brain barrier. Normal rhesus monkeys and monkeys at various times after being subjected to unilateral intracarotid injection of MPTP (0.4 mg/kg) were studied with magnetic resonance imaging using T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo and gradient-echo sequences. Disrupture of the blood-brain barrier was assessed also with magnetic resonance imaging after administration of gadolinium-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid. Parkinsonian symptoms contralateral to the infused carotid usually appeared within 1 day after MPTP exposure, reaching their peak severity by 7 days, when all monkeys showed clear clinical abnormalities. Magnetic resonance imaging changes developed in concomitance with the clinical signs and were characterized by increased signal intensity on T2-weighted images as well as decreased intensity on T1-weighted images of the ipsilateral caudate and putamen. T2 hyperintensity was also present just dorsal to the pars compacta of the substantia nigra, in the region of the proximal nigrostriatal tract. All magnetic resonance imaging changes dissipated in the next 2 weeks. There were no abnormalities at any time in the globus pallidus, nucleus accumbens, and other structures innervated by the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system. After MPTP exposure, there was no evidence of blood-brain barrier disrupture, suggesting that vasogenic edema was an unlikely factor in the production of the observed abnormalities.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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