Background: The first pathology observed in Parkinson's disease (PD) is 'dying back' of striatal dopaminergic (DA) terminals. Connexin (Cx)30, an astrocytic gap junction protein, is upregulated in the striatum in PD, but its roles in neurodegeneration remain elusive. We investigated Cx30 function in an acute PD model by administering 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) to wild-type (WT) and Cx30 knockout (KO) mice. Methods: On days 1 and 7 after MPTP administration, we evaluated changes in astrocytic Cx30, Cx43, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and ionised calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 expression by immunostaining and biochemical analysis. Loss of DA neurons was evaluated by tyrosine hydroxylase immunostaining. Gene expression was analysed using A1, A2, pan-reactive astrocyte microarray gene sets, and M1, M2, and M1/M2 mixed microglial microarray gene sets. Real-time PCR and in situ hybridisation were performed to evaluate glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (Gdnf) and S100a10 expression. Striatal GDNF protein levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: MPTP treatment induced upregulation of Cx30 and Cx43 levels in the striatum of WT and KO mice. DA neuron loss was accelerated in Cx30 KO compared with WT mice after MPTP administration, despite no change in the striatal concentration of methyl-4-phenylpyridinium+. Astrogliosis in the striatum of Cx30 KO mice was attenuated by MPTP, whereas microglial activation was unaffected. Microarrays of the striatum showed reduced expression of pan-reactive and A2 astrocyte genes after MPTP treatment in Cx30 KO compared with WT mice, while M1, M2, and M1/M2 mixed microglial gene expression did not change. MPTP reduced the number of striatal astrocytes co-expressing Gdnf mRNA and S100β protein or S100a10 mRNA and S100β protein and also reduced the level of GDNF in the striatum of Cx30 KO compared with WT mice. Conclusions: These findings indicate that Cx30 plays critical roles in astrocyte neuroprotection in an MPTP PD model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience