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Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(7):8722-39. doi: 10.3390/ijms13078722. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress promote apoptotic cell death in the striatum via cytochrome c/caspase-3 signaling cascade following chronic rotenone intoxication in rats.

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Department of Neurology, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung 833, Taiwan; E-Mails: (S.-D.C.); (C.-W.L.); (C.-R.H.).


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder marked by nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration. Evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction may be linked to PD through a variety of different pathways, including free-radical generation and dysfunction of the mitochondrial Complex I activity. In Lewis rats, chronic systemic administration of a specific mitochondrial Complex I inhibitor, rotenone (3 mg/kg/day) produced parkinsonism-like symptoms. Increased oxidized proteins and peroxynitrite, and mitochondrial or cytosol translocation of Bim, Bax or cytochrome c in the striatum was observed after 2-4 weeks of rotenone infusion. After 28 days of systemic rotenone exposure, imunohistochemical staining for tyrosine hydroxylase indicated nigrostriatal dopaminergic neuronal cell degeneration. Characteristic histochemical (TUNEL or activated caspase-3 staining) or ultrastructural (electron microscopy) features of apoptotic cell death were present in the striatal neuronal cell after chronic rotenone intoxication. We conclude that chronic rotenone intoxication may enhance oxidative and nitrosative stress that induces mitochondrial dysfunction and ultrastructural damage, resulting in translocation of Bim and Bax from cytosol to mitochondria that contributes to apoptotic cell death in the striatum via cytochrome c/caspase-3 signaling cascade.


Parkinson’s disease; apoptotic cell death; complex I; mitochondria; rotenone; striatum

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