Decreased expression of kynurenine aminotransferase-I (KAT-I) in the substantia nigra of mice after 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) treatment

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Nerve cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNPC) are known to express tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). By means of light and electron microscopical immunohistochemical techniques, we have shown that the dopaminergic neurons of SNPC express also kynurenine aminotransferase (KAT-I), the enzyme taking part in the formation of kynurenic acid, a neuroprotectant which is one of the endogeneous antagonists of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. It was also found that microglial cells and astrocytes express KAT-I. It has been shown that the highly selective dopaminergic neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6- tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), widely used as a model of Parkinson's disease (PD), affects not only TH of dopaminergic neurons in the SNPC but also their KAT-I immunoreactivity as well: MPTP treatment decreased the number and optical density of KAT-I immunoreactive SNPC neurons. Decrease of KAT-I after MPTP treatment has been proved also by Western blot analysis. MPTP also reduced KAT-I immunoreactivity of microglial cells, except for those involved in reactive gliosis, which were arranged in groups surrounding affected neurons of the SNPC; also the number of KAT-I immunoreactive (IR) astroglial cells was increased in SNPC. We conclude that MPTP treatment may have a dual effect: in addition to being deleterious for neurons expressing TH and KAT-I, it also affects glial cells which could exacerbate the neurodegenerative process characterizing PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-914
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2004



  • ABC
  • AOI
  • DA
  • DAB
  • FITC
  • GFAP
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Western blot
  • area of interest
  • avidin biotin complex
  • diaminobenzidine
  • dopamine
  • electron microscopy
  • fluorescein iso-thio-cyanate
  • immunohistochemistry
  • kynurenic acid
  • tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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