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J Neurochem. 2002 Aug;82(3):615-24.

Protective action of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonist pioglitazone in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

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INSERM U289, Experimental Neurology and Therapeutics, Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


We examined the effect of pioglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma) agonist of the thiazolidinedione class, on dopaminergic nerve cell death and glial activation in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of Parkinson's disease. The acute intoxication of C57BL/6 mice with MPTP led to nigrostriatal injury, as determined by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunocytochemistry, and HPLC detection of striatal dopamine and metabolites. Damage to the nigrostriatal dopamine system was accompanied by a transient activation of microglia, as determined by macrophage antigen-1 (Mac-1) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) immunoreactivity, and a prolonged astrocytic response. Orally administered pioglitazone (approximately 20 mg/kg/day) attenuated the MPTP-induced glial activation and prevented the dopaminergic cell loss in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). In contrast, there was little reduction of MPTP-induced dopamine depletion, with no detectable effect on loss of TH immunoreactivity and glial response in the striatum of pioglitazone-treated animals. Low levels of PPARgamma expression were detected in the ventral mesencephalon and striatum, and were unaffected by MPTP or pioglitazone treatment. Since pioglitazone affects primarily the SNpc in our model, different PPARgamma-independent mechanisms may regulate glial activation in the dopaminergic terminals compared with the dopaminergic cell bodies after acute MPTP intoxication.

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