Motor Function in MPTP-Treated Tree Shrews (Tupaia belangeri chinensis)

Neurochem Res. 2013 Jun 25. doi: 10.1007/s11064-013-1099-8. Online ahead of print.


The tree shrew, a new experimental animal model, has been used to study a variety of diseases, especially diseases of the nervous system. 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) is the gold standard for toxin-based animal models of Parkinson's disease (PD) because MPTP treatment replicates almost all of the pathological hallmarks of PD. Therefore, in this study, the effects of MPTP on the motor function of the tree shrew were examined. After five daily injections of a 3 mg/kg dose of MPTP, the motor function of MPTP-injected tree shrews decreased significantly, and the classic Parkinsonian symptoms of action and resting tremor, bradykinesia, posture abnormalities, and gait instability were observed in most MPTP-injected tree shrews. HPLC results also showed significantly reduced striatal dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels in tree shrews after MPTP injection. Increased oxidative stress levels are usually considered to be the cause of dopaminergic neuron depletion in the presence of MPTP and were observed in the substantia nigra of MPTP-treated tree shrews, as indicated by a significant reduction in superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activity and increased levels of malondialdehyde. In addition, elevated α-synuclein mRNA levels in the midbrain of MPTP-treated tree shrews were observed. Furthermore, MPTP-treated tree shrews showed the classic Parkinsonian symptoms at a lower MPTP dosage compared with other animal models. Thus, the MPTP-treated tree shrew may be a potential animal model for studying the pathogenesis of PD.