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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2011 Apr-Jun;24(2):313-22.

Paraquat- and rotenone-induced models of Parkinson's disease.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder mainly characterized by a loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. In recent years, several new genes and environmental factors have been implicated in PD, and their impact on DA neuronal cell death is slowly emerging. However, PD etiology remains unknown, whereas its pathogenesis begins to be clarified as a multifactorial cascade of deleterious factors. Recent epidemiological studies have linked exposure to environmental agents, including pesticides, with an increased risk of developing the disease. As a result, over the last two decades the "environmental hypothesis" of PD has gained considerable interest. This speculates that agricultural chemicals in the environment, by producing selective dopaminergic cell death, can contribute to the development of the disease. However, a causal role for pesticides in the etiology of PD has yet to be definitively established. Importantly, most insights into PD pathogenesis came from investigations performed in experimental models of PD, especially those produced by neurotoxins. This review presents data obtained in our laboratories along with current views on the neurotoxic actions induced by the two most popular parkinsonian pesticide neurotoxins, namely paraquat and rotenone. Although confined to these two chemicals, mechanistic studies underlying dopaminergic cell death are of the utmost importance to identify new drug targets for the treatment of PD.

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