06 May 2019
The current treatments of Parkinson disease (PD) are ineffective mainly due to the poor understanding of the early events causing the decline of dopaminergic neurons (DOPAn). To overcome this problem, slow progressively degenerating models of PD allowing the study of the pre-clinical phase are crucial. We recreated in a short ex vivo time scale (96 h) all the features of human PD (needing dozens of years) by challenging organotypic culture of rat substantia nigra with low doses of rotenone. Thus, taking advantage of the existent knowledge, the model was used to perform a time-dependent comparative study of the principal possible causative molecular mechanisms undergoing DOPAn demise. Alteration in the redox state and inflammation started at 3 h, preceding the reduction in DOPAn number (pre-diagnosis phase). The number of DOPAn declined to levels compatible with diagnosis only at 12 h. The decline was accompanied by a persistent inflammation and redox imbalance. Significant microglia activation, apoptosis, a reduction in dopamine vesicle transporters, and the ubiquitination of misfolded protein clearance pathways were late (96 h, consequential) events. The work suggests inflammation and redox imbalance as simultaneous early mechanisms undergoing DOPAn sufferance, to be targeted for a causative treatment aimed to stop/delay PD.