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J Neurosci. 2010 Dec 1;30(48):16091-101. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2400-10.2010.

The Toll-like receptor-3 agonist polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid triggers nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration.

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Center for Neuroregeneration Research, Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, 02478, USA.


In Parkinson's disease (PD), loss of striatal dopaminergic (DA) terminals and degeneration of DA neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) are associated with glial reactions. Such inflammatory processes are commonly considered an epiphenomenon of neuronal degeneration. However, there is increasing recognition of the role of neuroinflammation as an initiation factor of DA neuron degeneration. To investigate this issue, we established a new model of brain inflammation by injecting the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR-3) agonist polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)] in the SN of adult rats. Poly(I:C) injection induced a sustained inflammatory reaction in the SN and in the dorsolateral striatum. Significant changes were detected in proteins relevant to synaptic transmission and axonal transport. In addition, cytoplasmic mislocalization of neuronal TAR DNA binding protein TDP-43 was observed. Poly(I:C) injection increased the susceptibility of midbrain DA neurons to a subsequent neurotoxic trigger (low-dose 6-hydroxydopamine). Systemic delivery of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protected SN DA neurons exposed to combined poly(I:C) induced inflammatory and neurotoxic oxidative stress. These data indicate that viral-like neuroinflammation induces predegenerative changes in the DA system, which lowers the set point toward neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. New powerful neuroprotective therapies for PD might be considered by targeting critical inflammatory mechanisms, including cytokine-induced neurotoxicity.

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