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Neurochemical plasticity in the enteric nervous system of a primate animal model of experimental Parkinsonism


Michel Neunlist, Inserm U913, 1 place Alexis Ricordeau, 44093 Nantes, France.
Tel: +33(0)240087515; fax: +33(0)240087506;


Abstract  Emerging evidences suggest that the enteric nervous system (ENS) is affected by the degenerative process in Parkinson’s disease (PD). In addition lesions in the ENS could be associated with gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunctions, in particular constipation, observed in PD. However, the precise alterations of the ENS and especially the changes in the neurochemical phenotype remain largely unknown both in PD and experimental Parkinsonism. The aim of our study was thus to characterize the neurochemical coding of the ENS in the colon of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated monkeys, a well-characterized model of PD. In the myenteric plexus, there was a significant increase in the number of neurons per ganglia (identified with Hu), especially nitric oxide synthase immunoreactives (IR) neurons in MPTP-treated monkeys compared to controls. A concomitant 72% decrease in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-IR neurons was observed in MPTP-treated monkeys compared to controls. In contrast no change in the cholinergic or vasoactive intestinal peptide-IR population was observed. In addition, the density of enteric glial cells was not modified in MPTP-treated monkeys. Our results demonstrate that MPTP induces major changes in the myenteric plexus and to a lesser extent in the submucosal plexus of monkeys. They further reinforce the observation that lesions of the ENS occur in the course of PD that might be related to the GI dysfunction observed in this pathology.