Genetic elimination of dopamine vesicular stocks in the nigrostriatal pathway replicates Parkinson's disease motor symptoms without neuronal degeneration in adult mice

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 29;7(1):12432. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12810-9.


The type 2 vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2), by regulating the storage of monoamines transmitters into synaptic vesicles, has a protective role against their cytoplasmic toxicity. Increasing evidence suggests that impairment of VMAT2 neuroprotection contributes to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Several transgenic VMAT2 mice models have been developed, however these models lack specificity regarding the monoaminergic system targeting. To circumvent this limitation, we created VMAT2-KO mice specific to the dopamine (DA) nigrostriatal pathway to analyze VMAT2's involvement in DA depletion-induced motor features associated to PD and examine the relevance of DA toxicity in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration. Adult VMAT2 floxed mice were injected in the substancia nigra (SN) with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing the Cre-recombinase allowing VMAT2 removal in DA neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway solely. VMAT2 deletion in the SN induced both DA depletion exclusively in the dorsal striatum and motor dysfunction. At 16 weeks post-injection, motor symptoms were accompanied with a decreased in food and water consumption and weight loss. However, despite an accelerating death, degeneration of nigrostriatal neurons was not observed in this model during this time frame. This study highlights a non-cytotoxic role of DA in our genetic model of VMAT2 deletion exclusively in nigrostriatal neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Dependovirus / metabolism
  • Dopamine / deficiency*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / physiopathology
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / pathology
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / deficiency
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Weight Loss


  • Slc18a2 protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases
  • Dopamine