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BACKGROUND: Numerous studies indicate an association between neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. Although still a matter of debate, growing evidence from epidemiological and animal studies indicate that preexisting diabetes increases the risk to develop Parkinson's disease. However, the mechanisms of such an association are unknown. OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether diabetes alters striatal dopamine neurotransmission and assessed the vulnerability of nigrostriatal neurons to neurodegeneration. METHODS: We used streptozotocin-treated and genetically diabetic db/db mice. Expression of oxidative stress and nigrostriatal neuronal markers and levels of dopamine and its metabolites were monitored. Dopamine release and uptake were assessed using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. 6-Hydroxydopamine was unilaterally injected into the striatum using stereotaxic surgery. Motor performance was scored using specific tests. RESULTS: Diabetes resulted in oxidative stress and decreased levels of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum. Levels of proteins regulating dopamine release and uptake, including the dopamine transporter, the Girk2 potassium channel, the vesicular monoamine transporter 2, and the presynaptic vesicle protein synaptobrevin-2, were decreased in diabetic mice. Electrically evoked levels of extracellular dopamine in the striatum were enhanced, and altered dopamine uptake was observed. Striatal microinjections of a subthreshold dose of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine in diabetic mice, insufficient to cause motor alterations in nondiabetic animals, resulted in motor impairment, higher loss of striatal dopaminergic axons, and decreased neuronal cell bodies in the substantia nigra. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that diabetes promotes striatal oxidative stress, alters dopamine neurotransmission, and increases vulnerability to neurodegenerative damage leading to motor impairment. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Original publication




Journal article


Mov Disord

Publication Date





1636 - 1648


dopamine, hyperglycemia, nigrostriatal neurons, oxidative stress, presynaptic proteins, Animals, Corpus Striatum, Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental, Dopamine, Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins, Mice, Substantia Nigra, Synaptic Transmission