• Mitochondria;
  • Huntington's disease;
  • Striatum;
  • Neuronal death;
  • Excitotoxicity;
  • Succinate dehydrogenase


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract

Abstract: Chronic inhibition of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) by systemic injection of the selective inhibitor 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP) has been used as an animal model for Huntington's disease (HD). However, the mechanisms by which 3NP produces lesions in the striatum are not fully characterized. A quantitative histochemical method was developed to study the level of regional SDH inhibition resulting from intraperitoneal injection of 3NP or chronic intoxication using osmotic pumps. The results showed that (a) 3NP was an irreversible SDH inhibitor in vivo, (b) the level of SDH inhibition in the striatum (the brain region most vulnerable to 3NP) was similar to that observed in other brain regions not affected by the toxin, such as the cerebral cortex, and (c) the neurotoxic threshold of SDH inhibition in the brain was 50–60% of control levels. The present study demonstrates that the selective degeneration in the striatum observed after chronic 3NP administration cannot be ascribed to a preferential inhibition of SDH in this particular brain region. This work also suggests that the partial decrease in the activity of the respiratory chain complex II–III reported in HD patients may be sufficient to induce the selective striatal degeneration observed in this disorder.

Abbreviations used: HD, Huntington's disease; NBT, nitro blue tetrazolium; 3NP, 3-nitropropionic acid; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline; SDH, succinate dehydrogenase.