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Neurosci Lett. 2002 Sep 6;329(3):354-8.

Cyclooxygenase-2-deficient mice are resistant to 1-methyl-4-phenyl1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine-induced damage of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra.

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  • 1University Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong.


Cyclooxygenases (COX), key enzymes in prostanoid biosynthesis, may represent important therapeutic targets in various neurodegenerative diseases. In the present study, we explored the role of COX in Parkinson's disease (PD) by using 1-methyl-4-phenyl1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) as a tool to create a rodent Parkinsonian model. MPTP (20 mg/kg, subcutaneously) was injected daily into COX-1- and COX-2-deficient mice and wild-type (WT) controls for five consecutive days. Immunocytochemical analysis of tissues collected 7 days after the final MPTP treatment showed that MPTP significantly decreased the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive (TH-ir) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) of WT (40% decrease) and COX-1(-/-) (45% decrease) mutants. However, a much smaller loss of TH-ir neurons in COX-2(-/-) mutants (20% decrease) was observed. Furthermore, electrochemical analysis revealed a more than 70% decrease in the levels of dopamine and its metabolites (3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and homovanillic acid) in the striatum of the WT control COX-1(-/-) and COX-2(-/-) mutant mice. These results indicate that loss of COX-2 activity reduces MPTP-induced damage to the dopaminergic neurons of the SNc, but does not alter the levels of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum. Interestingly, MPTP caused the same degree of loss of dopaminergic neurons in both COX-2(+/-) and COX-2(-/-) mice (20% loss). The results of this study indicate an important role of COX-2 in MPTP-induced neuronal degeneration and suggest the possibility that manipulation of the COX-2 could be an important target for therapeutic interventions in PD.

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