Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder with the core motor features of resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. Non-motor symptoms also occur, and include cognitive dysfunction, mood disorders, anosmia (loss of smell), and REM sleep disturbances. As the development of medications and other therapies for treatment of non-motor symptoms is ongoing, it is essential to have animal models that aid in understanding the neural changes underlying non-motor PD symptoms and serve as a testing ground for potential therapeutics. We investigated several non-motor symptoms in 10 adult male marmosets using the MPTP model, with both the full (n=5) and partial (n=5) MPTP dosing regimens. Baseline data in numerous domains were collected prior to dosing; assessments in these same domains occurred post-dosing for 12 weeks. Marmosets given the partial MPTP dose (designed to mimic the early stages of the disease) differed significantly from marmosets given the full MPTP dose in several ways, including behavior, olfactory discrimination, cognitive performance, and social responses. Importantly, while spontaneous recovery of PD motor symptoms has been previously reported in studies of MPTP monkeys and cats, we did not observe recovery of any non-motor symptoms. This suggests that the neurochemical mechanisms behind the non-motor symptoms of PD, which appear years before the onset of symptoms, are independent of the striatal dopaminergic transmission. We demonstrate the value of assessing a broad range of behavioral change to detect non-motor impairment, anosmia, and differences in socially appropriate responses, in the marmoset MPTP model of early PD.
Keywords: MPTP; Non-motor symptoms; Nonhuman primate model; Parkinson’s disease.
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