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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Nov 20;427(3):440-54.

Time course of degenerative alterations in nigral dopaminergic neurons following a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


The neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) has been used extensively in animal models of Parkinson's disease. Typically, rodents develop severe unilateral movement deficiencies coupled with apomorphine-induced rotation behavior at least 1 week after an ipsilateral 6-OHDA lesion of the nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) system. The short-term morphological effects of 6-OHDA have not been determined in detail, however, and the exact process by which neurons die has not been elucidated. Thus, novel degenerative markers were used to determine the temporal pattern of acute phenotypic and degenerative alterations following a unilateral 6-OHDA injection into the medial forebrain bundle of adult rats. 6-Hydroxydopamine administration resulted in an increase in terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining as early as 6 hours postlesion. Staining for FluoroJade, a marker of neuronal degeneration, was evident at all time points examined but was maximal at 48 hours. Loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity began in axons at 6 hours, and progressed to cell bodies at later time points postlesion. Morphological examination of these neurons supported the conclusion of their death via apoptosis. Thus, whereas behavioral manifestations typically become evident 1 week or more following a 6-OHDA lesion, it is evident that nigral cell degeneration begins much earlier. This suggests multiple therapeutic possibilities, including the prevention of apoptosis, in affected neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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