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Eur J Neurosci. 2008 Aug;28(3):610-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06356.x.

Broad neuroprotective profile of nicotinamide in different mouse models of MPTP-induced parkinsonism.

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Department of Pathology, Thomas Jefferson University, 521 JAH, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


The factors contributing to substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) dopamine (DA) neuron death and striatal DA depletion in Parkinson's disease (PD) are still poorly understood. However, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular energy depletion and oxidative stress appear to play important roles in the pathogenesis of PD. In view of this, the current study examined the potential of nicotinamide, a form of the B-complex vitamin niacin, to protect against 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced SNc cell loss and striatal DA depletion in two mouse MPTP models that respond differently to putative neuroprotective agents. Adult male C57Bl/6 mice received nicotinamide (125, 250 or 500 mg/kg i.p.) prior to either acute (four injections in 1 day at 2-h intervals) or sub-acute (two injections per day at 4-h intervals for 5 days) MPTP administration. Striatal DA levels, changes in numbers of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)- and cresyl violet-stained cells in the SNc at 2 and 6 weeks following the last MPTP exposure were analyzed. Nicotinamide administration resulted in a dose-dependent sparing of striatal DA levels and SNc neurons in acute MPTP-treated animals. Only the highest dose of nicotinamide had similar effects in sub-acute MPTP-treated animals. At 6 weeks after MPTP exposure, there was some spontaneous recovery of striatal DA levels in both models: neuroprotective effects were still apparent in acute but not sub-acute MPTP-treated animals. These results show neuroprotective effects of nicotinamide in different mouse Parkinson models associated with different forms of cell death and suggest that nicotinamide may have broad neuroprotective potential in PD.

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