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J Endocrinol. 2009 Sep;202(3):431-9. doi: 10.1677/JOE-09-0132. Epub 2009 Jul 1.

Exendin-4 protects dopaminergic neurons by inhibition of microglial activation and matrix metalloproteinase-3 expression in an animal model of Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Pharmacology, Biomedical Science Institute and Medical Research Center for Reactive Oxygen Species, Kyunghee University School of Medicine, Seoul 130-071, Republic of Korea.


Exendin-4 is a naturally occurring more potent and stable analog of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that selectively binds at the GLP-1 receptor. It has been recently demonstrated that GLP-1 receptor stimulation preserves dopaminergic neurons in cellular and rodent models of Parkinson's disease (PD). 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) causes nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurotoxicity in rodents; previous studies suggest that activated microglia actively participate in the pathogenesis of PD neurodegeneration. However, the role of microglia in the neuroprotective properties of exendin-4 is still unknown. Here, we show that, in the mouse MPTP PD model, systemic administration of exendin-4 significantly attenuates the loss of substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) neurons and the striatal dopaminergic fibers. Exendin-4 prevents MPTP-induced microglial activation in the SNpc and striatum, and the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-3. In addition, exendin-4 also suppressed MPTP-induced expression of pro-inflammatory molecules and tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-1 beta. Our data indicate that exendin-4 may act as a survival factor for dopaminergic neurons by functioning as a microglia-deactivating factor and suggest that exendin-4 may be a valuable therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases such as PD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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