Allosteric modulation of the group III mGlu4 receptor provides functional neuroprotection in the 6-hydroxydopamine rat model of Parkinson’s disease

Matt Betts, Michael J O'Neill, Susan Duty

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49 Citations (Scopus)


We recently reported that broad spectrum agonist-induced activation of presynaptic group III metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors within the substantia nigra pars compacta using L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyrate provided functional neuroprotection in the 6-hydroxydopamine lesion rat model of Parkinson's disease. The aim of this study was to establish whether selective activation of the mGlu4 receptor alone could afford similar functional neuroprotection.

The neuroprotective effects of 8 days of supranigral treatment with a positive allosteric modulator of mGlu4 receptors, (+/−)-cis-2-(3,5-dichlorphenylcarbamoyl)cyclohexanecarboxylic acid (VU0155041), were investigated in rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. The effects of VU0155041 treatment on motor function were assessed using both habitual (cylinder test) and forced (adjusted stepping, amphetamine-induced rotations) behavioural tests. Nigrostriatal tract integrity was examined by analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase, dopa decarboxylase or dopamine levels in the striatum and tyrosine hydroxylase-positive cell counts in the substantia nigra pars compacta.

VU0155041 provided around 40% histological protection against a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion as well as significant preservation of motor function. These effects were inhibited by pre-treatment with (RS)-α-cyclopropyl-4-phosphonophenylglycine, confirming a receptor-mediated response. Reduced levels of inflammatory markers were also evident in the brains of VU0155041-treated animals.

Allosteric potentiation of mGlu4 receptors in the substantia nigra pars compacta provided neuroprotective effects in the 6-hydroxydopamine rat model A reduced inflammatory response may contribute, in part, to this action. In addition to the reported symptomatic effects, activation of mGlu4 receptors may also offer a novel approach for slowing the progressive degeneration observed in Parkinson's disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2317 - 2330
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number8
Early online date24 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

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