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Exp Neurol. 1991 Mar;111(3):282-92.

Functional recovery of supersensitive dopamine receptors after intrastriatal grafts of fetal substantia nigra.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City 84112.


Interruption of the ascending dopamine neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway, by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion in rats, produced a significant loss of the dopamine transport complexes labeled with the phencyclidine derivative [3H]BTCP. This loss of dopamine innervation in the striatum was present at least 12 to 14 months after lesioning and was functionally manifested by ipsilateral rotation of the animals in response to amphetamine. In these same animals, in comparison to controls, there was a significant increase in the number (Bmax) of [3H]SCH 23390-labeled D-1 receptors in the striatum (36.7%) and the substantia nigra (35.1%) and a 54.4% increase in the number (Bmax) of [3H]sulpiride-labeled striatal D-2 receptors without an apparent change in affinity (Kd). Ten to twelve months after the transplantation of homologous fetal substantia nigra into the denervated striatum, there was a significant decrease in amphetamine-induced turning behavior. In these animals, there was an ingrowth of dopamine nerve terminals in the striatum as demonstrated by a return of [3H]BTCP binding. Accompanying this reinnervation was the normalization of D-1 and D-2 receptors to control values in the striatum as well as the return of D-1 receptors to prelesion densities in the substantia nigra. In a subgroup of transplanted rats, amphetamine continued to induce ipsilateral turning. In these animals both D-1 and D-2 receptors remained supersensitive. These results support the hypothesis that the functional recovery of transplanted animals is due, in part, to reinnervation of the striatum. In addition, long-term alterations in receptor density may be related to the behavioral deficits that are associated with the 6-OHDA-lesioned rat. Furthermore, dopamine receptor plasticity may play a role in the functional recovery of substantia nigra transplanted animals and graft viability seems to be a prerequisite for behavioral recovery as well as receptor normalization.

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