Angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonist losartan, reduces MPTP-induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra
1 Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Medicine, Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
2 Neuroscience Program, Department of Medicine, Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
3 Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA
4 Department of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA
Molecular Neurodegeneration 2007, 2:1 doi:10.1186/1750-1326-2-1Published: 15 January 2007
Recent attention has focused on understanding the role of the brain-renin-angiotensin-system (RAS) in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Direct evidence of a role for the brain-RAS in Parkinson's disease (PD) comes from studies demonstrating the neuroprotective effect of RAS inhibitors in several neurotoxin based PD models. In this study, we show that an antagonist of the angiotensin II (Ang II) type 1 (AT1) receptor, losartan, protects dopaminergic (DA) neurons against 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) toxicity both in primary ventral mesencephalic (VM) cultures as well as in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) of C57BL/6 mice (Fig. 1).
In the presence of exogenous Ang II, losartan reduced MPP+ (5 μM) induced DA neuronal loss by 72% in vitro. Mice challenged with MPTP showed a 62% reduction in the number of DA neurons in the SNpc and a 71% decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunostaining of the striatum, whereas daily treatment with losartan lessened MPTP-induced loss of DA neurons to 25% and reduced the decrease in striatal TH+ immunostaining to 34% of control.
Our study demonstrates that the brain-RAS plays an important neuroprotective role in the MPTP model of PD and points to AT1 receptor as a potential novel target for neuroprotection.