We investigated the immunohistochemical alterations of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), endothelial NOS (eNOS), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), microtuble-associated protein 2a,b (MAP 2), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), parvalbumin (PV), and dopamine transporter (DAT) in the striatum and substantia nigra following the application of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in mice. TH-, MAP 2- and DAT-immunoreactive cells were decreased gradually in the striatum and substantia nigra from 1 day up to 7 days after MPTP treatment, as well as the reduction of the striatal dopamine, DOPAC and HVA content. The number of GFAP-immunoreactive astrocytes increased gradually in the striatum and substantia nigra from 1 day up to 7 days after MPTP treatment. Striatal nNOS-immunoreactive cells were unchanged in MPTP-treated mice. In the substantia nigra, intense immunoreactivity of nNOS-positive cells increased 5 hr after MPTP treatment. Thereafter, the immunoreactivity of nNOS-positive cells decreased gradually from 1 day up to 7 days after MPTP treatment. eNOS-immunopositive cells were unchanged in the striatum and substantia nigra. These results demonstrate that nNOS may play a key role in the development of MPTP neurotoxicity. Our findings also indicate that MPTP can cause the functional damage of interneurons in the substantia nigra, but not in the striatum.
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