To support a potential role for immune mechanisms in the destruction of substantia nigra (SN) neurons, guinea pigs were immunized with bovine mesencephalon containing SN neurons. After immunization no clinical signs of basal ganglia dysfunction appeared. However, pathological examination revealed evidence of neuronal damage in the SN in 8 of 17 guinea pigs immunized with bovine mesencephalon. No nigral pathology was noted in animals immunized with spinal cord gray matter or Freund's adjuvant alone. Accompanying the SN damage in mesencephalon-immunized guinea pigs was a 25% decrease in tyrosine hydroxylase activity in the SN and a 27% decrease in dopamine content in the striatum. Deposits of IgG were detected by immunohistochemical techniques in sections of SN from mesencephalon-immunized guinea pigs and in sections of human SN after exposure to serum from mesencephalon-immunized guinea pigs. These data document the antigenicity of SN and suggest the possibility that immune mechanisms can contribute to basal ganglia pathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology