Receptor autoradiographic technique was studied to investigate sequential changes in FK-506 binding proteins, nitric oxide synthase and dopamine uptake sites in the brain 1 week to 8 weeks after unilateral 6- hydroxydopamine injection of the medial forebrain bundle in rats. [3H]FK- 506, [3H]L-N(G)-nitro-arginine and [3H]mazindol were used to label FK-506 binding proteins (immunophilin), nitric oxide synthase and dopamine uptake sites, respectively. [3H]FK-506 binding showed about 13-25% increase in the ipsilateral striatum from 2 to 8 weeks after degeneration of nigrostriatal pathway. However, no significant change in [3H]FK-506 binding was observed in the ipsilateral substantia nigra during the postlesion periods. In the contralateral side, [3H]FK-506 binding also showed about 13-25% increase in the striatum from 2 to 8 weeks postlesion. The substantia nigra showed a 21% increase in [3H]FK-506 binding only 2 weeks after the lesioning. On the other hand, [3H]L-N(G)-nitro-arginine binding showed about 21-31% increase in the parietal cortex and striatum 1 week or 2 weeks postlesion. In the contralateral side, a 21% increase in [3H]L-N(G)-nitro-arginine binding was found in the dorsolateral striatum only 1 week postlesion. In contrast, degeneration of nigrostriatal pathway caused a conspicuous loss of [3H]mazindol binding in the ipsilateral striatum (87-96%), substantia nigra (36-73%) and ventral tegmental area (91-100%) during the postlesion periods. In the contralateral side, no significant changes in [3H]mazindol binding were observed in these areas upto 8 weeks after the postlesion. The present study demonstrates that unilateral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the medial forebrain bundle of rats can cause a significant increase in [3H]FK- 506 and [3H]L-N(G)-nitro-arginine bindings in the brains. In contrast, a marked reduction in [3H]mazindol binding is observed in the brains after the lesioning, indicating severe damage to nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. These results suggest that immunophilin and nitric oxide synthase may play some role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
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