Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.496, No.4, 1102-1108, 2018
Effect of ghrelin on the motor deficit caused by the ablation of nigrostriatal dopaminergic cells or the inhibition of striatal dopamine receptors
Ghrelin plays roles in a wide range of central functions by activating the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). This receptor has recently been found in the substantia nigra (SN) to control dopamine (DA)-related physiological functions. The dysregulation of DA neurons in the SN pars compacta (SNc) and the consequent depletion of striatal DA are known to underlie the motor deficits observed in Parkinson's disease (PD). In the present study, we further investigated the role of the SN-ghrelin system in motor function under the stereotaxic injection of AAV-CMV-FLEX-diphtheria toxin A (DTA) into the SN of dopamine transporter (DAT)-Cre (DAT(SN)::DTA) mice to expunge DA neurons of the SNc. First, we confirmed the dominant expression of GHSR1a, which is a functional GHSR, in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive DA neurons in the SNc of control mice. In DAT(SN)::DTA mice, we clearly observed motor dysfunction using several behavioral tests. An immunohistochemical study revealed a dramatic loss of TH-positive DA neurons in the SNc and DAT-labeled axon terminals in the striatum, and an absence of mRNAs for TH and DAT in the SN of DAT(SN)::DTA mice. The mRNA level of GHSR1a was drastically decreased in the SN of these mice. In normal mice, we also found the mRNA expression of GHSR1a within GABAergic neurons in the SN pars reticulata (SNr). Under these conditions, a single injection of ghrelin into the SN failed to improve the motor deficits caused by ablation of the nigrostriatal DA network using DAT(SN)::DTA mice, whereas intra-SN injection of ghrelin suppressed the motor dysfunction caused by the administration of haloperidol, which is associated with the transient inhibition of DA transmission. These findings suggest that phasic activation of the SNc-ghrelin system could improve the dysregulation of nigrostriatal DA transmission related to the initial stage of PD, but not the motor deficits under the depletion of nigrostriatal DA. Although GHSRs are found in non-DA cells of the SNr, GHSRs on DA neurons in the SNc may play a crucial role in motor function. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Inc.