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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;2(4):207-212.

JNK Inhibition Protects Dopamine Neurons and Provides Behavioral Improvement in a Rat 6-hydroxydopamine Model of Parkinson's Disease.

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Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Sir Charles Tuper Medical Buidling, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 1X5.


Parkinson's disease (PD) results from the loss of dopamine neurons located in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) that project to the striatum. A therapeutic has yet to be identified that halts this neurodegenerative process, and as such, development of a brain penetrant small molecule neuroprotective agent would represent a significant advancement in the treatment of the disease. To fill this void we developed an aminopyrimidine JNK inhibitor (SR-3306) that reduced the loss of dopaminergic cell bodies in the SNpc and their terminals in the striatum produced by unilateral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the nigrostriatal pathway. Administration of SR-3306 [10 mg/kg/day (s.c.) for 14 days] increased the number of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive (TH(+)) neurons in the SNpc by six-fold and reduced the loss of the TH(+) terminals in the striatum relative to the corresponding side of 6-OHDA-lesioned rats that received only vehicle (p<0.05). In addition, SR-3306 [10 mg/kg/day (s.c.) for 14 days] decreased d-amphetamine-induced circling by 87% compared to 6-OHDA-lesioned animals given vehicle. Steady-state brain levels of SR-3306 at day 14 were 347 nM, which was approximately two-fold higher than the cell-based IC(50) for this compound. Finally, immunohistochemical staining for phospho-c-jun (p-c-jun) revealed that SR-3306 [10 mg/kg/day (s.c.) for 14 days] produced a 2.3-fold reduction of the number of immunoreactive neurons in the SNpc relative to vehicle treated rats. Collectively, these data suggest that orally bioavailable JNK inhibitors may be useful neuroprotective agents for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

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