SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • dyskinesia;
  • medium spiny neuron;
  • nimodipine;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • transplantation

Abstract

Dopamine deficiency associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) results in numerous changes in striatal transmitter function and neuron morphology. Specifically, there is marked atrophy of dendrites and dendritic spines on striatal medium spiny neurons (MSN), primary targets of inputs from nigral dopamine and cortical glutamate neurons, in advanced PD and rodent models of severe dopamine depletion. Dendritic spine loss occurs via dysregulation of intraspine Cav1.3 L-type Ca2+channels and can be prevented, in animal models, by administration of the calcium channel antagonist, nimodipine. The impact of MSN dendritic spine loss in the parkinsonian striatum on dopamine neuron graft therapy remains unexamined. Using unilaterally parkinsonian Sprague–Dawley rats, we tested the hypothesis that MSN dendritic spine preservation through administration of nimodipine would result in improved therapeutic benefit and diminished graft-induced behavioral abnormalities in rats grafted with embryonic ventral midbrain cells. Analysis of rotational asymmetry and spontaneous forelimb use in the cylinder task found no significant effect of dendritic spine preservation in grafted rats. However, analyses of vibrissae-induced forelimb use, levodopa-induced dyskinesias and graft-induced dyskinesias showed significant improvement in rats with dopamine grafts associated with preserved striatal dendritic spine density. Nimodipine treatment in this model did not impact dopamine graft survival but allowed for increased graft reinnervation of striatum. Taken together, these results demonstrate that even with grafting suboptimal numbers of cells, maintaining normal spine density on target MSNs results in overall superior behavioral efficacy of dopamine grafts.