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Neurobiol Dis. 2003 Feb;12(1):35-45.

Up-regulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase in the substantia nigra by lipopolysaccharide causes microglial activation and neurodegeneration.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Medical Center, University of Kentucky, 800 Rose Street, Room MN 225, Lexington, KY 40536-5276, USA.


The present study was designed to examine whether expression of iNOS was involved in LPS-induced neurodegeneration in rat substantia nigra (SN) and to study the role of NO in the loss of the SN dopaminergic neurons. In Western blot analysis, iNOS was induced in the SN after injection of LPS in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that the iNOS is located in a fully activated microglia with the characteristic amoeboid morphology. Furthermore, LPS-induced loss of dopaminergic neurons was significantly inhibited by the administration of L-N(G)-nitroarginine, a selective inhibitor of NOS, and the glucocorticoid dexamethasone. These inhibiting agents for iNOS reduced LPS-induced microglial activation, suggesting that NO has a role in inflammatory-mediated microglial activation. These results demonstrate that LPS induces the expression of iNOS in activated microglia in the SN, and that NO and/or its metabolites may play a crucial role in inflammation-mediated degeneration of dopaminergic neurons.

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