Locus ceruleus lesions and eosinophilic inclusions in MPTP-treated monkeys



Systemic administration of the recently discovered neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) produces severe clinical parkinsonism and degeneration of the substantia nigra in humans and monkeys. In previous studies, no convincing structural damage to nerve cells outside the substantia nigra could be demonstrated in subhuman primates. Using a protracted MPTP regimen and older animals, we now report locus ceruleus lesions and eosinophilic inclusion bodies in squirrel monkeys. The inclusions were seen only in areas where Lewy bodies are found in human Parkinson's disease. No such abnormalities were seen in control animals. These findings suggest that similarities between the neuropathology of MPTP-induced parkinsonism in the monkey and human Parkinson's disease are greater than first thought and increase the usefulness of the MPTP monkey model for research in Parkinson's disease.