Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Neurosci. 2003 May 15;23(10):4081-91.

Inhibition of calpains prevents neuronal and behavioral deficits in an MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

Author information

Neuroscience Research Group, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Canada.


The molecular mechanisms mediating degeneration of midbrain dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease (PD) are poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence to support a role for the involvement of the calcium-dependent proteases, calpains, in the loss of dopamine neurons in a mouse model of PD. We show that administration of N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) evokes an increase in calpain-mediated proteolysis in nigral dopamine neurons in vivo. Inhibition of calpain proteolysis using either a calpain inhibitor (MDL-28170) or adenovirus-mediated overexpression of the endogenous calpain inhibitor protein, calpastatin, significantly attenuated MPTP-induced loss of nigral dopamine neurons. Commensurate with this neuroprotection, MPTP-induced locomotor deficits were abolished, and markers of striatal postsynaptic activity were normalized in calpain inhibitor-treated mice. However, behavioral improvements in MPTP-treated, calpain inhibited mice did not correlate with restored levels of striatal dopamine. These results suggest that protection against nigral neuron degeneration in PD may be sufficient to facilitate normalized locomotor activity without necessitating striatal reinnervation. Immunohistochemical analyses of postmortem midbrain tissues from human PD cases also displayed evidence of increased calpain-related proteolytic activity that was not evident in age-matched control subjects. Taken together, our findings provide a potentially novel correlation between calpain proteolytic activity in an MPTP model of PD and the etiology of neuronal loss in PD in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Grant support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center