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Neuroscience. 1995 Aug;67(3):649-66.

Time-dependent changes in iron levels and associated neuronal loss within the substantia nigra following lesions within the neostriatum/globus pallidus complex.

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Department of Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa 33620, USA.


The substantia nigra and globus pallidus (two iron-rich brain areas) receive a substantial innervation from the neostriatum, a considerable amount of which is GABAergic. Because of this anatomic relationship and the finding that prevention of GABA degradation in these two areas decreases their histochemical levels of iron, GABAergic transmission/metabolism may be important in regulating brain iron levels. Therefore, the present study investigated the effects of denervation of striatal/pallidal inputs to globus pallidus/substantia nigra on iron levels and associated pathologic changes in globus pallidus/substantia nigra. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats received unilateral ibotenic acid infusions resulting in comprehensive lesions of the entire neostriatum/globus pallidus complex, or of either the anterior neostriatum or the posterior neostriatum/globus pallidus. Animals were killed at one week or one month following surgery. Between one week and one month postlesioning, comprehensive neostriatum/globus pallidus lesions induced a progressive decrease in substantia nigra volume, as well as a progressive increase in both substantia nigra zona reticularis iron staining and substantia nigra iron concentration. By one month following neostriatum/globus pallidus lesions, a marked 73% loss of substantia nigra zona reticularis neurons occurred in association with a 65% increase in glial cell numbers within zona reticularis. Compared to comprehensive neostriatum/globus pallidus lesions at the one month postlesion time point, more restricted anterior neostriatum and posterior neostriatum/globus pallidus lesions induced a less severe atrophy of the substantia nigra, a small (anterior neostriatum lesions) to moderate (posterior neostriatum/globus pallidus lesions) increase in substantia nigra zona reticularis iron staining, and either no zona reticularis neuronal loss (anterior neostriatum lesions) or limited zona reticularis neuronal loss selectively within areas of increased iron staining. These results suggest that destruction of striatal/pallidal innervation to the substantia nigra's zona reticularis induces a disruption of zona reticularis iron homeostasis, resulting in a redistribution and/or accumulation of iron in the zona reticularis and consequent zona reticularis of the substantia nigra neurodegeneration. The results further suggest that loss or dysfunction of striatonigral/striatopallidal GABAergic neurons in several neurodegenerative diseases (including Hallervorden-Spatz syndrome, progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, and Parkinson's disease) may result in an increase or redistribution of nigral iron to cause loss of substantia nigra neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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