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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2007 May;28(5):229-35. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Nicotine neuroprotection against nigrostriatal damage: importance of the animal model.

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The Parkinson's Institute, 1170 Morse Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089, USA.


Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that is characterized by a loss of nigrostriatal dopamine-containing neurons. Unexpectedly, there is a reduced incidence of Parkinson's disease in tobacco users. This finding is important because the identification of the component(s) responsible for this effect could lead to therapeutic strategies to slow down or halt the progression of Parkinson's disease. Results from cell culture models consistently show that nicotine protects against neurotoxicity. However, data from animal models of nigrostriatal damage are conflicting, thus raising questions about a neuroprotective role of nicotine. Accumulating evidence indicates that discrepancies are observed primarily in mouse models of the disease. By contrast, reproducible protection occurs in rat models and in a nonhuman primate parkinsonian model that closely resembles the human disease. These findings highlight the need to use the appropriate animal model and treatment conditions when testing putative neuroprotective agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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