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Anatomy and Neurobiology

First Advisor

Guoying Bing


Accumulating evidence suggests that inflammation plays an important role in the progression ofParkinson's disease (PD). Among many inflammatory factors found in the PD brain, cyclooxygenase(COX), especially the inducible isoform, COX-2, is believed to be the critical enzyme in theinflammatory response. Induction of COX-2 is also found in an experimental model of PD producedby administration of 1-methy-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). To investigate whetherinhibition of COX-2 by valdecoxib or deficiency in COX-2 could prevent dopaminergic neuronaltoxicity and locomotor activity impairment, we injected MPTP into valdecoxib-treated C57BL/6N miceand COX-2 deficient mice, respectively. Both automated total distance and vertical activitymeasurements of the open-field test were significantly reduced in the vehicle-treated mice at two weekspost-MPTP injection. In contrast, valdecoxib treatment significantly attenuated these deficits.Similarly, COX-2 deficiency attenuated MPTP-induced loss of coordination on a rotarod assay.Valdecoxib or deficiency of COX-2 reduced microglial activation while preventing loss of tyrosinehydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). The total number ofactivated microglia in the SNpc had a strong positive correlation with the level of COX-2 anddopaminergic neurodegeneration. The results of this study indicate that reducing the activity of COX-2can mitigate the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons as well as the motor deficits caused byMPTP neurotoxicity, possibly by suppressing the activation of microglia in the SNpc.



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