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Keywords:

  • 6-hydroxydopamine;
  • dopaminergic neurons;
  • microglia;
  • neuroinflammation;
  • Parkinson’s disease

Abstract

Cellular interactions between activated microglia and degenerating neurons in in vivo models of Parkinson’s disease are not well defined. This time course study assesses the dynamics of morphological and immunophenotypic properties of activated microglia in a 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) model of Parkinson’s disease. Neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) was induced by unilateral injection of 6-OHDA into the medial forebrain bundle. Activated microglia, identified using monoclonal antibodies: clone of antibody that detects major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens (OX6) for MHC class II, clone of antibody that detects cell surface antigen-cluster of differentiation 11b – anti-complement receptor 3, a marker for complement receptor 3 and CD 68 for phagocytic activity. Activation of microglia in the lesioned SNc was rapid with cells possessing amoeboid or ramified morphology appeared on day 1, whilst antibody clone that detects macrophage-myeloid associated antigen immunoreactivity was observed at day 3 post-lesion when there was no apparent loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)+ve dopaminergic (DA) SNc neurons. Thereafter, OX6 and antibody clone that detects macrophage-myeloid associated antigen activated microglia selectively adhered to degenerating axons, dendrites and apoptotic (caspase 3+ve) DA neurons in the SNc were observed at day 7. This was followed by progressive loss of TH+ve SNc neurons, with the peak of TH+ve cell loss (51%) being observed at day 9. This study suggests that activation of microglia precedes DA neuronal cell loss and neurons undergoing degeneration may be phagocytosed prematurely by phagocytic microglia.