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Progressive Dopamine Neuron Loss in Parkinson's Disease: The Multiple Hit Hypothesis

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Animal models have been an essential tool for researchers and clinicians in their efforts to study and treat Parkinson's disease (PD). Thus, the various ways 6-hydroxydopamine is employed, the use of MPTP in rodents and nonhuman primates, the prenatal exposure to bacterial endotoxin, the postnatal exposure to environmental toxins such as paraquat and rotenone, the assessment of dopamine (DA) neurons in genetic knockout mouse, and even the behavioral analysis of fruit flies and worms have added significantly to our knowledge base of PD—or have they? Are these animal models manifesting a true model of PD? Have the 7786 published studies (to date) on PD with animal models led to a clearer understanding of its etiology, treatment, or progression? In this review we critically assess this question. We begin with a succinct history of the major contributions, which have led to the current animal models of PD. We then evaluate the primary issue of the progressive loss of DA neurons, which, except for a few studies, has not been addressed in animal models of PD, even though this is the major pathological characteristic of the disease. Lastly, we discuss the possibility that more than one risk factor for PD may be necessary to develop an animal model that shows synergy—the progressive loss of DA neurons. Thus, the multiple hit hypothesis of PD—that is, the effect of more then one risk factor—may be the start of new era in animal models of PD that is one step closer to mimicking the pathology of PD in humans.
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Keywords: Dopamine neurons; Multiple hit hypothesis; Parkinson's disease; Progression

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pharmacology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA, Department of Neuroscience Program, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA 2: Department of Pharmacology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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