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Brain Res. 1999 Mar 27;823(1-2):1-10.

Paraquat elicited neurobehavioral syndrome caused by dopaminergic neuron loss.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Aging and Developmental Biology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The herbicide paraquat, bearing structural similarity to the known dopaminergic neurotoxicant MPTP, has been suggested as a potential etiologic factor in Parkinson's disease. Consideration of paraquat as a candidate neurotoxicant requires demonstration that systemic delivery produces substantia nigra dopaminergic neuron loss and the attendant neurobehavioral syndrome reflecting depletion of dopamine terminals within the striatum. To address these issues paraquat was administered systemically into adult C57 bl/6 mice, ambulatory behavior monitored, substantia nigra dopamine neuron number and striatal dopamine terminal density quantified. The data indicate that paraquat like MPTP elicits a dose-dependent decrease in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons assessed by a Fluoro-gold prelabeling method, a decline in striatal dopamine nerve terminal density assessed by measurement of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity; and neurobehavioral syndrome characterized by reduced ambulatory activity. Taken together, these data suggest that systemically absorbed paraquat crosses the blood-brain barrier to cause destruction of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra, consequent reduction of dopaminergic innervation of the striatum and a neurobehavioral syndrome similar to the well characterized and bona fide dopaminergic toxin MPTP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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