Role of neuronal nitric oxide in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity

Serge Przedborski, Vernice Jackson-Lewis, Rina Yokoyama, Toshihiro Shibata, Valina L. Dawson, Ted M. Dawson

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1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) causes nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway damage similar to that observed in Parkinson disease (PD). To study the role of NO radical in MPTP-induced neurotoxicity, we injected MPTP into mice in which nitric oxide synthase (NOS) was inhibited by 7-nitroindazole (7-NI) in a time- and dose-dependent fashion. 7-NI dramatically protected MPTP-injected mice against indices of severe injury to the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway, including reduction in striatal dopamine contents, decreases in numbers of nigral tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons, and numerous silverstained degenerating nigral neurons. The resistance of 7-NI-injected mice to MPTP is not due to alterations in striatal pharmacokinetics or content of 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+), the active metabolite of MPTP. To study specifically the role of neuronal NOS (nNOS), MPTP was administered to mutant mice lacking the nNOS gene. Mutant mice are significantly more resistant to MPTP-induced neurotoxicity compared with wild-type littermates. These results indicate that neuronally derived NO mediates, in part, MPTP-induced neurotoxicity. The similarity between the MPTP model and PD raises the possibility that NO may play a significant role in the etiology of PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4565-4571
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 14 1996


  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Parkinson disease
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Superoxide radical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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