N-Acetylcysteine Prevents Loss of Dopaminergic Neurons in the EAAC1(-/-) Mouse

Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, USA.
Annals of Neurology (Impact Factor: 11.91). 03/2011; 69(3):509-20. DOI: 10.1002/ana.22162
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Dopaminergic neuronal death in Parkinson's disease (PD) is accompanied by oxidative stress and preceded by glutathione depletion. The development of disease-modifying therapies for PD has been hindered by a paucity of animal models that mimic these features and demonstrate an age-related progression. The EAAC1(-/-) mouse may be useful in this regard, because EAAC1(-/-) mouse neurons have impaired neuronal cysteine uptake, resulting in reduced neuronal glutathione content and chronic oxidative stress. Here we aimed to (1) characterize the age-related changes in nigral dopaminergic neurons in the EAAC1(-/-) mouse, and (2) use the EAAC1(-/-) mouse to evaluate N-acetylcysteine, a membrane-permeable cysteine pro-drug, as a potential disease-modifying intervention for PD.
Wild-type mice, EAAC1(-/-) mice, and EAAC1(-/-) mice chronically treated with N-acetylcysteine were evaluated at serial time points for evidence of oxidative stress, dopaminergic cell death, and motor abnormalities.
EAAC1(-/-) mice showed age-dependent loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, with more than 40% of these neurons lost by age 12 months. This neuronal loss was accompanied by increased nitrotyrosine formation, nitrosylated α-synuclein, and microglial activation. These changes were substantially reduced in mice that received N-acetylcysteine.
These findings suggest that the EAAC1(-/-) mouse may be a useful model of the chronic neuronal oxidative stress that occurs in PD. The salutary effects of N-acetylcysteine in this mouse model provide an impetus for clinical evaluation of glutathione repletion in PD.

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