Abbreviations used: DA, dopamine; DAT, dopamine transporter; DOPAC, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid; GFAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein; HVA, homovanillic acid; MPP+, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium; MPTP, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine; TH, tyrosine hydroxylase.
Abstract: The neurotoxic effect of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) was tested on mice lacking the dopamine (DA) transporter (DAT−/− mice). Striatal tissue DA content and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) mRNA expression were assessed as markers of MPTP neurotoxicity. MPTP (30 mg/kg, s.c., b.i.d.) produced an 87% decrease in tissue DA levels and a 29-fold increase in the level of GFAP mRNA in the striatum of wild-type animals 48 h after administration. Conversely, there were no significant changes in either parameter in DAT−/− mice. Heterozygotes demonstrated partial sensitivity to MPTP administration as shown by an intermediate value (48%) of tissue DA loss. Direct intrastriatal infusion of the active metabolite of MPTP, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+; 10 mM), via a microdialysis probe produced a massive efflux of DA in wild-type mice (>320-fold). In the DAT−/− mice the same treatment produced a much smaller increase in extracellular DA (sixfold), which is likely secondary to tissue damage due to the implantation of the dialysis probe. These observations show that the DAT is a mandatory component for expression of MPTP toxicity in vivo.