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Neuropharmacology. 2009 Mar;56(3):653-64. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 7.

Oleoylethanolamide exerts partial and dose-dependent neuroprotection of substantia nigra dopamine neurons.

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  • 1Departamento de Fisiologia Medica y Biofisica, Universidad de Sevilla, Av. Sanchez Pizjuan 4, E-41009 Sevilla, Spain.


Oleoylethanolamide (OEA), agonist of nuclear PPAR-alpha receptors and antagonist of vanilloid TRPV1 receptors, has been reported to show cytoprotective properties. In this study, OEA-induced neuroprotection has been tested in vitro and in vivo models of 6-OHDA-induced degeneration of substantia nigra dopamine neurons. First, PPAR-alpha receptors were confirmed to be located in the nigrostriatal circuit, these receptors being expressed by dopamine neurons of the substantia nigra, and intrinsic neurons and fibers bundles of the dorsal striatum. In the substantia nigra, their location was confined to the ventral tier. The in vitro study showed that 1 microM OEA exerted a significantly neuroprotective effect on cultured nigral dopamine neurons, effects following U-shaped dose-response curves. Regarding the in vivo study, rats were locally injected with OEA into the right striatum and vehicle into the left striatum 30 min before 6-OHDA-induced striatal lesion. In the short term, signals of heme oxygenase-1 (oxidation marker, 24 and 48 h post-lesion) and OX6 (reactive microglia marker, 96 h post-lesion) were found to be significantly less intense in the striatum pretreated with 5 microM OEA. In the long term (1 month), reduction in striatal TH and synaptophysin was less intense whether the right striatum was pretreated with 5 microM OEA, and nigral TH+ neuron death was significantly reduced after pretreatment with 1 and 5 microM OEA. In vivo effects also followed U-shaped dose-response curves. In conclusion, OEA shows U-shaped partial and dose-dependent neuroprotective properties both in vitro and in vivo models of substantia nigra dopamine neuron degeneration. The occurrence of U-shaped dose-response relationships normally suggests toxicity due to high drug concentration or that opposing intracellular pathways are activated by different OEA doses.

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