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Toxicol Lett. 2003 Apr 4;139(2-3):135-51.

Apoptotic mechanisms and antiapoptotic therapy in the MPTP model of Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Tübingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Str 3, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) model constitutes the best-characterized toxin paradigm for Parkinson's disease, faithfully replicating most of its clinical and pathological hallmarks. Many lines of evidence point to a significant contribution of apoptosis to cell death after application of 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP(+)) in cell culture or MPTP in vivo. This holds true for apoptotic DNA strand breaks, activation of the JNK pathway and caspases, induction of Par-4 protein and the protection conferred by interference with p53, Apaf-1 or Bax signalling. In MPTP models, intervention in upstream events of apoptosis, e.g. by inhibition of the JNK pathway, provides morphological and functional rescue. In contrast, inhibition of the propagation and execution phase of apoptosis, e.g. by inhibition of caspases, blocks or delays cell death but may not recover neuronal function. At this stage, the combination of an anti-apoptotic together with a neurorestorative therapy may be promising.

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