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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007 Sep;32(9):1911-21. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Mapping the effects of three dopamine agonists with different dyskinetogenic potential and receptor selectivity using pharmacological functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Laboratorio de Parkinsonismo Experimental, Instituto de Investigaciones Farmacológicas, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The mechanisms underlying dopamine agonist-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease remain poorly understood. Similar to patients, rats with severe nigrostriatal degeneration induced by 6-hydroxydopamine are more likely to show dyskinesia during chronic treatment with unselective dopamine receptor agonists than with D2 agonists, suggesting that D1 receptor stimulation alone or in conjunction with D2 receptor stimulation increases the chances of experiencing dyskinesia. As a first step towards disclosing drug-induced brain activation in dyskinesia, we examined the effects of dopamine agonists on behavior and blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the striatum and motor cortex of rats with unilateral nigrostriatal lesions. Rats were rendered dyskinetic before pharmacologic functional magnetic resonance imaging by means of a repeated treatment regime with dopamine agonists. The unselective agonist apomorphine and the selective D1/D5 agonist SKF-81297 induced strong forelimb dyskinesia (FD) and axial dystonia and increased BOLD signal in the denervated striatum. Besides, SKF-81297 produced a significant but smaller BOLD increase in the intact striatum and a symmetric bilateral increase in the motor cortex. The D2 family agonist quinpirole, which induced mild dyskinesia on chronic treatment, did not produce BOLD changes in the striatum or motor cortex. Further evidence to support an association between BOLD changes and dyskinesia comes from a direct correlation between scores of FD and magnitude of drug-induced BOLD increases in the denervated striatum and motor cortex. Our results suggest that striatal and cortical activation induced by stimulation of D1/D5 receptors has a primary role in the induction of peak dose dyskinesia in parkinsonism.

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