Amelioration of rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell death in the striatum by oxytocin treatment

Peptides. 2012 Dec;38(2):312-7. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2012.05.026. Epub 2012 Sep 14.


Oxytocin (OT) is essentially associated with uterine contraction during parturition and milk ejection reflex. Although several studies implicate the role of OT in anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic pathways, there is a lack of data with regard to the protective effects of oxytocin in neurodegenerative models such as Parkinson's disease (PD). The present study was undertaken to investigate the neuroprotective effects of oxytocin (OT) on rotenone-induced PD in rats. Twenty adult Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with rotenone (3 μg/μl in DMSO) or vehicle (1 μl DMSO) into the left substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) and ventral tegmental area (VTA) under stereotaxic surgery, and PD model was assessed by rotational test ten days after drug infusion. The valid PD rats were randomly divided into two groups; Group 1 (n=7) and Group 2 (n=7) were administered saline (1 ml/kg/day, i.p.) and oxytocin (160 μg/kg/day, i.p.) through 20 days, respectively. The effects of OT treatment were evaluated by behavioral, histological and immunohistochemical parameters. Apomorphine-induced stereotypic rotations in PD rats were significantly inhibited by OT treatment (p<0.05). In addition, immunohistochemical studies clearly demonstrated the suppression of Bax, caspase-3, caspase-8 and elevation of Bcl-2 and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoexpression in OT-treated rats compared to saline group. Our findings suggest that oxytocin may have cytoprotective and restorative effects on dopaminergic neurons against rotenone-induced injury. The underlying mechanism may be associated with the inhibition of apoptotic pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / administration & dosage
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / drug effects*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / drug effects*
  • Neostriatum / pathology
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rotenone / administration & dosage
  • Rotenone / pharmacology*


  • Rotenone
  • Oxytocin
  • Apomorphine