Recent information suggests that free radicals are closely involved in the pathogenesis and/or progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). High-dose levodopa therapy has been suggested to increase oxidative stress, thereby accelerating the progression of PD. Based on this viewpoint, free radical scavenging, antioxidant and neuroprotective agents which may prevent the progression of PD have recently attracted considerable attention. For example, ergot derivative dopamine (DA) agonists have been reported to scavenge free radicals in vitro and show a neuroprotective effect in vivo. Non-ergot DA agonists have also recently been used in the treatment of PD despite the lack of substantial evidence for any free radical scavenging activity or antioxidant activity. The present study was conducted to assess the in vitro free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities of ropinirole, a non-ergot DA agonist, as well as its glutathione (GSH), catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activating effects and neuroprotective effect in vivo. Ropinirole scavenges free radicals and suppresses lipid peroxidation in vitro, but these activities are very weak, suggesting that the antioxidant effect of ropinirole observed in vitro may be a minor component of its neuroprotective effect in vivo. Administration of ropinirole for 7 days increased GSH, catalase and SOD activities in the striatum and protected striatal dopaminergic neurons against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) in mice. Pre-treatment with sulpiride prevented ropinirole from enhancing striatal GSH, catalase and SOD activities and abolished the protection of dopaminergic neurons against 6-OHDA. Our findings indicate that activation of GSH, catalase and SOD mediated via DA D2 receptors may be the principal mechanism of neuroprotection by ropinirole.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.