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J Neurochem. 2004 May;89(4):822-33.

Genetic ablation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and pharmacological inhibition of TNF-synthesis attenuates MPTP toxicity in mouse striatum.

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  • 1Behavioural Neurobiology Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.


The impact of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the pathology of Parkinson's disease (PD) and in MPTP neurotoxicity remains unclear. Here, male TNF-alpha (-/-) deficient mice and C57bL/6 mice were treated with MPTP (4 x 15 mg/kg, 24 h intervals) and in one series, thalidomide was administered to inhibit TNF-alpha synthesis. Real-time RT-PCR revealed that the striatal mRNA levels of TNF-alpha, of the astrocytic marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and of the marker for activated microglia, macrophage antigen complex-1 (MAC-1), were significantly enhanced after MPTP administration. Thalidomide (50 mg/kg, p.o.) partly protected against the MPTP-induced dopamine (DA) depletion, and TNF-alpha (-/-) mice showed a significant attenuation of striatal DA and DA metabolite loss as well as striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) fiber density, but no difference in nigral TH and DA transporter immunoreactivity. TNF-alpha deficient mice suffered a lower mortality (10%) compared to the high mortality (75%) seen in wild-type mice after acute MPTP treatment (4 x 20 mg/kg, 2 h interval). HPLC measurement of MPP(+) levels revealed no differences in TNF-alpha (-/-), wild-type and thalidomide treated mice. This study demonstrates that TNF-alpha is involved in MPTP toxicity and that inhibition of TNF-alpha response may be a promising target for extending beyond symptomatic treatment and developing anti-parkinsonian drugs for the treatment of the inflammatory processes in PD.

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