Cell death & disease

Sigma-1 receptor deficiency reduces MPTP-induced parkinsonism and death of dopaminergic neurons.

PMID 26203861


Sigma-1 receptor (σ1R) has been reported to be decreased in nigrostriatal motor system of Parkinson's disease patients. Using heterozygous and homozygous σ1R knockout (σ1R+/- and σ1R-/-) mice, we investigated the influence of σ1R deficiency on 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-impaired nigrostriatal motor system. The injection of MPTP for 5 weeks in wild-type mice (MPTP-WT mice), but not in σ1R+/- or σ1R-/- mice (MPTP-σ1R+/- or MPTP-σ1R-/- mice), caused motor deficits and ~40% death of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra pars compacta with an elevation of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAr) NR2B phosphorylation. The σ1R antagonist NE100 or the NR2B inhibitor Ro25-6981 could alleviate the motor deficits and the death of dopaminergic neurons in MPTP-WT mice. By contrast, MPTP-σ1R+/- mice treated with the σ1R agonist PRE084 or MPTP-σ1R-/- mice treated with the NMDAr agonist NMDA appeared to have similar motor deficits and loss of dopaminergic neurons as MPTP-WT mice. The pharmacological or genetic inactivation of σ1R suppressed the expression of dopamine transporter (DAT) in substantia nigra, which was corrected by NMDA. The activation of σ1R by PRE084 enhanced the DAT expression in WT mice or σ1R+/- mice. By contrast, the level of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) in σ1R+/- mice or σ1R-/- mice had no difference from WT mice. Interestingly, MPTP-WT mice showed the reduction in the levels of DAT and VMAT2, but MPTP-σ1R-/- mice did not. The inactivation of σ1R by NE100 could prevent the reduction of VMAT2 in MPTP-WT mice. In addition, the activation of microglia cells in substantia nigra was equally enhanced in MPTP-WT mice and MPTP-σ1R-/- mice. The number of activated astrocytes in MPTP-σ1R-/- mice was less than that in MPTP-WT mice. The findings indicate that the σ1R deficiency through suppressing NMDAr function and DAT expression can reduce MPTP-induced death of dopaminergic neurons and parkinsonism.