Delayed transneuronal death of substantia nigra neurons prevented by gamma-aminobutyric acid agonist

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Science  02 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4784, pp. 66-69
DOI: 10.1126/science.3798095


In an investigation of the mechanism by which brain lesions result in delayed degeneration of neurons remote from the site of injury, neurons within the caudate nucleus of rats were destroyed by local injection of the excitotoxin ibotenic acid. Treatment resulted in the rapid degeneration of the striatonigral pathway including projections containing the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and delayed transneuronal death of neurons in the substantia nigra pars reticulata. The distribution of nigral cell loss corresponded to the loss of GABAergic terminals. Neuronal death was prevented by long-term intraventricular infusion of the GABA agonist muscimol. Delayed transneuronal degeneration may be produced by neuronal disinhibition consequent to loss of inhibitory inputs. Replacement of inhibitory transmitters by suitable drugs may prevent some forms of delayed neuronal death.

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