American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology

Gastric dysregulation induced by microinjection of 6-OHDA in the substantia nigra pars compacta of rats is determined by alterations in the brain-gut axis.

PMID 25277799


Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a late-onset, chronic, and progressive motor dysfunction attributable to loss of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons. Patients with PD experience significant gastrointestinal (GI) issues, including gastroparesis. We aimed to evaluate whether 6-hydroxy-dopamine (6-OHDA)-induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) induces gastric dysmotility via dysfunctions of the brain-gut axis. 6-OHDA microinjection into the SNpc induced a >90% decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactivity (IR) on the injection site. The [13C]-octanoic acid breath test showed a delayed gastric emptying 4 wk after the 6-OHDA treatment. In control rats, microinjection of the indirect sympathomimetic, tyramine, in the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) decreased gastric tone and motility; this inhibition was prevented by the fourth ventricular application of either a combination of α1- and α2- or a combination of D1 and D2 receptor antagonists. Conversely, in 6-OHDA-treated rats, whereas DVC microinjection of tyramine had reduced effects on gastric tone or motility, DVC microinjection of thyrotropin-releasing hormone induced a similar increase in motility as in control rats. In 6-OHDA-treated rats, there was a decreased expression of choline acetyl transferase (ChAT)-IR and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-IR in DVC neurons but an increase in dopamine-β-hydroxylase-IR in the A2 area. Within the myenteric plexus of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, there were no changes in the total number of neurons; however, the percentage of NOS-IR neurons increased, whereas that of ChAT-IR decreased. Our data suggest that the delayed gastric emptying in a 6-OHDA rat model of PD may be caused by neurochemical and neurophysiological alterations in the brain-gut axis.