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Author Notes:

Correspondence to: Gunasingh Masilamoni, PhD, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA E-mail: gjeyara@emory.edu



  • substantia nigra
  • locus coeruleus
  • striatum
  • neuroprotection
  • noradrenaline

Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist protects dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons from degeneration in MPTP-treated monkeys


Journal Title:



Volume 134, Number 7


, Pages 2057-2073

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Degeneration of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system and of noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus are important pathological features of Parkinson’s disease. There is an urgent need to develop therapies that slow down the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease. In the present study, we tested whether the highly specific metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist, 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine, reduces dopaminergic and noradrenergic neuronal loss in monkeys rendered parkinsonian by chronic treatment with low doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine. Weekly intramuscular 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine injections (0.2–0.5 mg/kg body weight), in combination with daily administration of 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine or vehicle, were performed until the development of parkinsonian motor symptoms in either of the two experimental groups (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine versus 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle). After 21 weeks of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine treatment, all 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated animals displayed parkinsonian symptoms, whereas none of the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated monkeys were significantly affected. These behavioural observations were consistent with in vivo positron emission tomography dopamine transporter imaging data, and with post-mortem stereological counts of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, as well as striatal intensity measurements of dopamine transporter and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, which were all significantly higher in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated animals than in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated monkeys. The 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine treatment also had a significant effect on the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-induced loss of norepinephrine neurons in the locus coeruleus and adjoining A5 and A7 noradrenaline cell groups. In 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/vehicle-treated animals, almost 40% loss of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive norepinephrine neurons was found in locus coeruleus/A5/A7 noradrenaline cell groups, whereas the extent of neuronal loss was lower than 15% of control values in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine/3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine-treated monkeys. Our data demonstrate that chronic treatment with the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist, 3-[(2-methyl-1,3-thiazol-4-yl) ethynyl] pyridine, significantly reduces 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine toxicity towards dopaminergic and noradrenergic cell groups in non-human primates. This suggests that the use of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonists may be a useful strategy to reduce degeneration of catecholaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease.

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© The Author (2011). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com

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