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Date of this Version



The FASEB Journal express article 10.1096/fj.02-0216fje. Published online July 18, 2002.


U.S. Government Work


The pathogenic mechanisms underlying idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD) remain enigmatic. Recent findings suggest that inflammatory processes are associated with several neurodegenerative disorders, including PD. Enhanced expression of the proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, has been found in association with glial cells in the substantia nigra of patients with PD. To determine the potential role for TNF-α in PD, we examined the effects of the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), a dopaminergic neurotoxin that mimics some of the key features associated with PD, using transgenic mice lacking TNF receptors. Administration of MPTP to wild-type (+/+) mice resulted in a time-dependent expression of TNF-α in striatum, which preceded the loss of dopaminergic markers and reactive gliosis. In contrast, transgenic mice carrying homozygous mutant alleles for both the TNF receptors (TNFR-DKO), but not the individual receptors, were completely protected against the dopaminergic neurotoxicity of MPTP. The data indicate that the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α is an obligatory component of dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Moreover, because TNF-α is synthesized predominantly by microglia and astrocytes, our findings implicate the participation of glial cells in MPTPinduced neurotoxicity. Similar mechanisms may underlie the etiopathogenesis of PD.