Neurobiology of Aging vol:36 issue:3 pages:1543-58
Testing of new therapeutic strategies for Parkinson's disease (PD) is currently hampered by the lack of relevant and reproducible animal models. Here, we developed a robust rat model for PD by injection of adeno-associated viral vectors (rAAV2/7) encoding α-synuclein into the substantia nigra, resulting in reproducible nigrostriatal pathology and behavioral deficits in a 4-week time period. Progressive dopaminergic dysfunction was corroborated by histopathologic and biochemical analysis, motor behavior testing and in vivo microdialysis. L-DOPA treatment was found to reverse the behavioral phenotype. Non-invasive positron emission tomography imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy allowed longitudinal monitoring of neurodegeneration. In addition, insoluble α-synuclein aggregates were formed in this model. This α-synuclein rat model shows improved face and predictive validity, and therefore offers the possibility to reliably test novel therapeutics. Furthermore, it will be of great value for further research into the molecular pathogenesis of PD and the importance of α-synuclein aggregation in the disease process.