Functional modulation of G-protein coupled receptors during Parkinson disease-like neurodegeneration

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G-protein coupled dopamine and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlu) can modulate neurotransmission during Parkinson's disease (PD)-like neurodegeneration. PET imaging studies in a unilateral dopamine denervation model (6-OHDA) showed a significant inverse correlation of presynaptic mGlu4 and postsynaptic mGlu5 expression in the striatum and rapidly declining mGlu4 and enhanced mGlu5 expression in the hippocampus during progressive degeneration over time. Immunohistochemical studies verified the decreased mGlu4 expression in the hippocampus on the lesion side but did not show difference in mGlu5 expression between lesion and control side. Pharmacological MRI studies showed enhanced hemodynamic response in several brain areas on the lesion side compared to the control side after challenge with mGlu4 positive allosteric modulator or mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator. However, mGlu4 response was biphasic having short enhancement followed by negative response on both sides of brain. Studies in mGlu4 expressing cells demonstrated that glutamate induces cooperative increase in binding of mGlu4 ligands – especially at high glutamate levels consistent with in vivo concentration. This suggests that mGlu allosteric modulators as drug candidates will be highly sensitive to changes in glutamate concentration and hence metabolic state. These experiments demonstrate the importance of the longitudinal imaging studies to investigate temporal changes in receptor functions to obtain individual response for experimental drugs.

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