• cholinergic neurons;
  • dopaminergic neurons;
  • inflammation;
  • lipopolysaccharide;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • serotonergic neurons


Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by selective and progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN). Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) can induce chronic inflammation and has been widely used to study the pathogenesis of PD. In this study, a single intracerebroventricular injection of LPS was used to induce neurotoxic effects on dopaminergic neurons in Sprague–Dawley rats. The long-term neurotoxic effects of LPS were evaluated at different time points. Microglia were activated in the hippocampus and striatum at 4 weeks, and in the SN at 24 weeks. Astrocytes were activated in the hippocampus and nigrostriatal system at 2 and 24 weeks. The expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the SN increased at 4 weeks and decreased after 12 weeks, and tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons in the SN were shown to have an atrophic appearance, with cell loss evident after 24 weeks. Phospho-α-synuclein expression, a reflection of parkinsonian pathogenesis, increased at 12 weeks, and peaked at 24 weeks. Abnormal motor behavior appeared at 16 weeks and lasted up to 48 weeks. These results indicate that microglia are activated for several months after a single, low dose injection of LPS, which eventually results in progressive and selective damage to dopaminergic neurons in the SN.