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Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(10):1556-61. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Repeated heat exposure impairs nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons in mice.

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  • 1Department of Oriental Pharmaceutical Science, College of Pharmacy, Kyung Hee University.


Environmental heat stress is associated with physical stress responses, including changes in monoamines, protein expression, and neuronal circuits and damage to neurons in the brain. This study determined the effects of heat stress on the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system based on behavioral, histological, and neurochemical analyses. To evaluate behavioral changes after heat exposure, we subjected mice to the pole and open field tests. The data suggested that heat stress for 7 d significantly impaired movement. Then, we conducted a histological analysis using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity in the striatum and substantia nigra (SN). Heat stress induced a significant deficit in TH-positive fibers and cells after 14- and 21-d exposure, respectively. We also measured the striatal dopamine (DA), 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-phenylacetic acid, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels. The data suggested that DA turnover rate increased with heat exposure in a time-dependent manner, resulting in the significant decrease of DA after 28 d. Moreover, the expression of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) was increased in the mouse SN with up to 14-d heat exposure, but decreased after 21 d of the stress. And glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) was gradually increased in the mouse SN with 28-d heat exposure. The caspase-3 activity was also increased after 14-d heat exposure. These findings are the first evidence that repeated heat stress impairs nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons, motor function, and DA availability with changes of HSP70 and GRP78 expressions and caspase-3 activity in mice.

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