6-Hydroxydopamine induces the loss of the dopaminergic phenotype in substantia nigra neurons of the rat. A possible mechanism for restoration of the nigrostriatal circuit mediated by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor

K. E. Bowenkamp, D. David, P. L. Lapchak, M. A. Henry, A. C. Granholm, B. J. Hoffer, T. J. Mahalik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Intraparenchymal injections of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the medial forebrain bundle in rats destroys the dopaminergic neurons in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra. In other transmitter systems it has been found that axotomy or neurotoxin exposure produces an initial loss of neurotransmitter phenotype, with cell death occurring over a much slower time course. To determine whether this also occurs in dopamine neurons after 6-OHDA, two approaches were utilized. First, the effect of injections of 6-OHDA into the medial forebrain bundle on nigral dopaminergic neurons was studied using combined fluorogold and immunocytochemical labeling. Four weeks after the 6-OHDA injection, there was an 85% reduction in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive cells on the lesioned side. In contrast, there was only a 50% reduction in the number of fluorogold-labeled cells on the lesioned side. Second, the time course of the rescue of dopaminergic neurons after 6-OHDA by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) was determined using TH immunocytochemistry. Greater numbers of dopamine neurons were rescued 9 weeks after GDNF compared with counts made 5 weeks after GDNF. Taken together, these results suggest loss of dopaminergic phenotype is greater than cell loss following 6-OHDA injections, and that GDNF restores the phenotype of affected cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 23 1996



  • Cell death
  • Neurotrophins
  • Rat
  • Retrograde labeling
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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