Dopamine and GABA Interaction in Basal Ganglia: GABA-A or GABA-B Receptor Stimulation Attenuates L-DOPA-Induced Striatal and Nigral ERK1/2 Signaling in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by degeneration of nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) neurons. The primary drug used to treat PD symptoms is L-DOPA, but side effects such as dyskinesias limit its use. Previous findings show that L-DOPA treatment induces extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2), a MAP-kinase protein. γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is intimately involved in basal ganglia function. Our previous study using a unilaterally lesioned rat model of PD indicated that elevating GABA levels by GABA transaminase inhibitor, aminooxyacetic acid significantly attenuated L-DOPA-induced ERK phosphorylation in the striatum and substantia nigra (SN). The aim of the present study was to assess the role of GABA-A and GABA-B receptor by using a selective agonists, muscimol and baclofen respectively, on L-DOPA-induced ERK phosphorylation in the striatum and SN. Unilaterally 6-OHDA-lesioned rats were prescreened by apomorphine induced rotation test for the extent of DA loss. Lesioned rats were treated with L-DOPA alone or after muscimol or baclofen pretreatment. Appropriate control groups were used. Phospho-ERK levels, tyrosine hydroxylase (to ascertain DA loss) and substance P (an indirect marker for DA loss) levels were assessed by immunohistochemistry using coronal slices at the level of striatum and SN. L-DOPA administration induced a robust increase (>300%) in phospho-ERK1/2 levels in the striatum and SN. Muscimol as well as baclofen pretreatment attenuated the L-DOPA-induced increase in phospho-ERK1/2 levels by >60% in the striatum and SN. Muscimol and baclofen pretreatment also greatly reduced the number of L-DOPA induced phospho-ERK1/2 stained cells in the striatum as well as the contralateral rotational behavior. The present data taken together with our previous study indicate that the L-DOPA induced increase in ERK1/2 is attenuated by GABA via a GABA-A and GABA-B receptor linked mechanism. The study provides further insight into a dopamine-GABA-ERK interaction in the therapeutic and/or side effects of L-DOPA in the basal ganglia.

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S. Lynch and S. Sivam, "Dopamine and GABA Interaction in Basal Ganglia: GABA-A or GABA-B Receptor Stimulation Attenuates L-DOPA-Induced Striatal and Nigral ERK1/2 Signaling in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 3 No. 6, 2013, pp. 479-488. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.36050.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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