Compensatory neuritogenesis of serotonergic afferents within the striatum of a transgenic rat model of Parkinson's disease.

Research paper by Judith J Stemick, Carina C Gauer, Jeanette J Wihan, Sandra S Moceri, Wei W Xiang, Stephan S von Hörsten, Zacharias Z Kohl, Jürgen J Winkler

Indexed on: 15 Sep '20Published on: 14 Sep '20Published in: Brain Research


The majority of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) suffer from L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia (LID). Besides a dysfunctional dopaminergic system, changes of the serotonergic network may be linked to this severe and adverse symptom. Particularly, serotonergic neurons have the potential to synthesize dopamine likely associated with a disproportional dopamine release within the striatum. We hypothesized that the serotonergic system is adaptively altered in the striatum due to the reduced dopaminergic input. To answer this question, we analyzed a transgenic rat PD model ubiquitously expressing human α-synuclein using a bacterial artificial chromosome. Neurite analysis showed a profound loss of dopaminergic fibers by ∼30-40% within the dorsal striatum paralleled by a ∼50% reduction of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. In contrast, serotonergic fibers showed an increased fiber density in the dorsal striatum by ∼100%, while the number of serotonergic neurons within the raphe nuclei (RN) and its proximal neuritic processes were unaffected. Furthermore, both the dopaminergic and serotonergic fiber density remained unchanged in the neighboring motor cortex M1/M2. Interestingly, essential enzymes required for L-DOPA turnover and dopamine release were expressed in serotonergic neurons of the RN. In parallel, the serotonergic autoreceptor levels involved in a serotonergic negative feedback loop were reduced within the striatum, suggesting a dysfunctional neurotransmitter release. Overall, the increased serotonergic fiber density with its capacity for dopamine release within the striatum suggests a compensatory, site-specific serotonergic neuritogenesis. This maladaptive serotonergic plasticity may be linked to adverse symptoms such as LIDs in PD. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.