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Exp Neurol. 2002 Jun;175(2):303-17.

Modeling Parkinson's disease in rats: an evaluation of 6-OHDA lesions of the nigrostriatal pathway.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Brain and Behavior Institute, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Human idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is primarily characterized by degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway. Different 6-OHDA rat models of PD have been developed in which this toxin has been injected into different parts of the nigrostriatal pathway: (a) the medial forebrain bundle which leads to extensive dopamine (DA) depletion; (b) the substantia nigra pars compacta, which leads to more specific and moderate DA depletions; and (c) subregions of the caudate-putamen complex (CPu), which also leads to specific DA depletions. In this article we review the dopaminergic depletion and behavioral consequences of 6-OHDA lesions in the rat. It was examined whether the relation between DA depletion and behavioral deficits mimic idiopathic PD. In addition, it was evaluated which model most closely approximates the human situation, especially in relation to the stage of this progressive disease. It was concluded that with respect to the site of the lesion, rats with partial lesions of the ventrolateral CPu are the most appropriate models to study early and late stages of PD. The choice of the behavioral parameters determines the use of unilateral or bilateral lesions, although it is obvious that the bilateral model mimics the human situation more closely.

(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

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