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Bax ablation prevents dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the 1-methyl- 4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

Vila M., Jackson-Lewis V., Vukosavic S., Djaldetti R., Liberatore G., Offen D., Korsmeyer S.J., Przedborski S.

1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) damages dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) as seen in Parkinson's disease. Here, we show that the pro-apoptotic protein Bax is highly expressed in the SNpc and that its ablation attenuates SNpc developmental neuronal apoptosis. In adult mice, there is an up-regulation of Bax in the SNpc after MPTP administration and a decrease in Bcl-2. These changes parallel MPTP-induced dopaminergic neurodegeneration. We also show that mutant mice lacking Bax are significantly more resistant to MPTP than their wild-type littermates. This study demonstrates that Bax plays a critical role in the MPTP neurotoxic process and suggests that targeting Bax may provide protective benefit in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 98:2837-2842(2001) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]