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Neuroinflammation and degeneration of catecholaminergic brainstem nuclei occur early in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Neuroinflammation increases levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species which can alter neuronal calcium (Ca(+2)) homoeostasis via L-type voltage dependent calcium channels (L-VDCCs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs). Alterations in Ca(+2) channel activity in the SN and LC can lead to disruption of normal pacemaking activity in these areas, contributing to behavioral deficits. Here, we utilized an in vivo model of chronic neuroinflammation: rats were infused intraventricularly with a continuous small dose (0.25 μg/h) of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) for 28 days. Rats were treated with either the L-VDCC antagonist nimodipine or the RyR antagonist dantrolene. LPS-infused rats had significant motor deficits in the accelerating rotarod task as well as abnormal behavioral agitation in the forced swim task and open field. Corresponding with these behavioral deficits, LPS-infused rats also had significant increases in microglia activation and loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and locus coeruleus (LC). Treatment with nimodipine or dantrolene normalized LPS-induced abnormalities in the rotarod and forced swim, restored the number of TH-immunoreactive cells in the LC, and significantly reduced microglia activation in the SNpc. Only nimodipine significantly reduced microglia activation in the LC, and neither drug increased TH immunoreactivity in the SNpc. These findings demonstrate that the Ca(+2) dysregulation in the LC and SN brainstem nuclei is differentially altered by chronic neuroinflammation. Overall, targeting Ca + 2 dysregulation may be an important target for ameliorating neurodegeneration in the SNpc and LC.


Sarah C Hopp, Sarah E Royer, Heather M D'Angelo, Roxanne M Kaercher, David A Fisher, Gary L Wenk. Differential neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of L-type voltage dependent calcium channel and ryanodine receptor antagonists in the substantia nigra and locus coeruleus. Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology. 2015 Mar;10(1):35-44

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PMID: 25318607

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