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Parkinson's disease is much more than dopamine

On The March 30, 2015

Maude Beaudoin

Team Director - Léon Tremblay

Abstract :

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder of the elderly and is clinically characterized by the motor symptoms of tremor, akinesia/bradykinesia and rigidity. Non-motor features including cognitive and neuropsychiatric disturbances also commonly manifest. The main pathological characteristic of PD is the progressive loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. It is noteworthy that serotonergic (5-HT) neurons also degenerate in PD. However, its causal role in the expression of the wide range of parkinsonian motor or non-motor symptoms still remains to be explored.

To determine the role of this 5-HT injury besides the DA one in PD symptomatology, we developed a new monkey model exhibiting a double DA/5-HT lesion. We combined positron emission tomography imaging, behavioural assessments and neuroanatomy to determine the causal link between the serotonergic fibers alteration driven by MDMA and the PD symptomatology including cardinal motor symptoms (akinesia, rigidity and tremor) and responses to L-DOPA therapy (dyskinesia and neuropsychiatric-like behaviours).