Identification and kainic acid-induced up-regulation of low-affinity p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) in the nigral dopamine neurons of adult rats.
ABSTRACT Parkinson's disease is a common and severe debilitating neurological disease that results from massive and progressive degenerative death of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra, but the mechanisms of neuronal degeneration and disease progression remains largely obscure. We are interested in possible implications of low-affinity p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), which may mediate neuronal apoptosis in the central nervous system, in triggering cell death of the nigral dopamine neurons. The RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were carried out to detect if p75NTR is expressed in these nigral neurons and up-regulated by kainic acid (KA) insult in adult rats. It revealed p75NTR-positive immunoreactivity in the substantia nigra, and co-localization of p75NTR and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was found in a large number of substantia nigra neurons beside confirmation of p75NTR in the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-positive forebrain neurons. Cell count data further indicated that about 47-100% of TH-positive nigral neurons and 98-100% of ChAT-positive forebrain neurons express p75NTR. More interestingly, significant increasing in both p75NTR mRNA and p75NTR-positive neurons occurred rapidly following KA insult in the substantia nigra of animal model. The present study has provided first evidence on p75NTR expression and KA-inducing p75NTR up-regulation in substantia nigra neurons in rodent animals. Taken together with previous data on p75NTR functions in neuronal apoptosis, this study also suggests that p75NTR may play important roles in neuronal cell survival or excitotoxic degeneration of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra in pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease in human beings.