An optimized method for counting dopaminergic neurons in zebrafish.
ABSTRACT: In recent years, considerable effort has been devoted to the development of a fish model for Parkinson's disease (PD) to examine the pathological mechanisms of neurodegeneration. To effectively evaluate PD pathology, the ability to accurately and reliably count dopaminergic neurons is important. However, there is currently no such standardized method. Due to the relatively small number of dopaminergic neurons in fish, stereological estimation would not be suitable. In addition, serial sectioning requires proficiency to not lose any sections, and it permits double counting due to the large size of some of the dopaminergic neurons. In this study, we report an optimized protocol for staining dopaminergic neurons in zebrafish and provide a reliable counting method. Finally, using our optimized protocol, we confirmed that administration of 6-hydroxydopamine (a neurotoxin) or the deletion of the PINK1 gene (one of the causative genes of familiar PD) in zebrafish caused significant reduction in the number of dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons. In summary, this method will serve as an important tool for the appropriate evaluation and establishment of fish PD models.
Project description:Extensive convergent evidence collectively suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction is central to the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Recently, changes in the dynamic properties of mitochondria have been increasingly implicated as a key proximate mechanism underlying neurodegeneration. However, studies have been limited by the lack of a model in which mitochondria can be imaged directly and dynamically in dopaminergic neurons of the intact vertebrate CNS. We generated transgenic zebrafish in which mitochondria of dopaminergic neurons are labeled with a fluorescent reporter, and optimized methods allowing direct intravital imaging of CNS dopaminergic axons and measurement of mitochondrial transport in vivo. The proportion of mitochondria undergoing axonal transport in dopaminergic neurons decreased overall during development between 2days post-fertilization (dpf) and 5dpf, at which point the major period of growth and synaptogenesis of the relevant axonal projections is complete. Exposure to 0.5-1.0mM MPP(+) between 4 and 5dpf did not compromise zebrafish viability or cause detectable changes in the number or morphology of dopaminergic neurons, motor function or monoaminergic neurochemistry. However, 0.5mM MPP(+) caused a 300% increase in retrograde mitochondrial transport and a 30% decrease in anterograde transport. In contrast, exposure to higher concentrations of MPP(+) caused an overall reduction in mitochondrial transport. This is the first time mitochondrial transport has been observed directly in CNS dopaminergic neurons of a living vertebrate and quantified in a PD model in vivo. Our findings are compatible with a model in which damage at presynaptic dopaminergic terminals causes an early compensatory increase in retrograde transport of compromised mitochondria for degradation in the cell body. These data are important because manipulation of early pathogenic mechanisms might be a valid therapeutic approach to PD. The novel transgenic lines and methods we developed will be useful for future studies on mitochondrial dynamics in health and disease.
Project description:The brainstem-based pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) traditionally associates with motor function, but undergoes extensive degeneration during Parkinson's disease (PD), which correlates with axial motor deficits. PPN-deep brain stimulation (DBS) can alleviate certain symptoms, but its mechanism(s) of action remains unknown. We previously characterized rats hemi-intranigrally injected with the proteasomal inhibitor lactacystin, as an accurate preclinical model of PD. Here we used a combination of chemogenetics with positron emission tomography imaging for in vivo interrogation of discrete neural networks in this rat model of PD. Stimulation of excitatory designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs expressed within PPN cholinergic neurons activated residual nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons to produce profound motor recovery, which correlated with striatal dopamine efflux as well as restored dopamine receptor 1- and dopamine receptor 2-based medium spiny neuron activity, as was ascertained with c-Fos-based immunohistochemistry and stereological cell counts. By revealing that the improved axial-related motor functions seen in PD patients receiving PPN-DBS may be due to stimulation of remaining PPN cholinergic neurons interacting with dopaminergic ones in both the substantia nigra pars compacta and the striatum, our data strongly favor the PPN cholinergic-midbrain dopaminergic connectome as mechanism for PPN-DBS's therapeutic effects. These findings have implications for refining PPN-DBS as a promising treatment modality available to PD patients.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Loss of function mutations in PINK1 typically lead to early onset Parkinson disease (PD). Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are emerging as a powerful new vertebrate model to study neurodegenerative diseases. We used a pink1 mutant (pink(-/-) ) zebrafish line with a premature stop mutation (Y431*) in the PINK1 kinase domain to identify molecular mechanisms leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and loss of dopaminergic neurons in PINK1 deficiency. METHODS:The effect of PINK1 deficiency on the number of dopaminergic neurons, mitochondrial function, and morphology was assessed in both zebrafish embryos and adults. Genome-wide gene expression studies were undertaken to identify novel pathogenic mechanisms. Functional experiments were carried out to further investigate the effect of PINK1 deficiency on early neurodevelopmental mechanisms and microglial activation. RESULTS:PINK1 deficiency results in loss of dopaminergic neurons as well as early impairment of mitochondrial function and morphology in Danio rerio. Expression of TigarB, the zebrafish orthologue of the human, TP53-induced glycolysis and apoptosis regulator TIGAR, was markedly increased in pink(-/-) larvae. Antisense-mediated inactivation of TigarB gave rise to complete normalization of mitochondrial function, with resulting rescue of dopaminergic neurons in pink(-/-) larvae. There was also marked microglial activation in pink(-/-) larvae, but depletion of microglia failed to rescue the dopaminergic neuron loss, arguing against microglial activation being a key factor in the pathogenesis. INTERPRETATION:Pink1(-/-) zebrafish are the first vertebrate model of PINK1 deficiency with loss of dopaminergic neurons. Our study also identifies TIGAR as a promising novel target for disease-modifying therapy in PINK1-related PD.
Project description:Parkinson's disease (PD) is one of the most epidemic neurodegenerative diseases and is characterized by movement disorders arising from loss of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Recently, the relationship between PD and autophagy has received considerable attention, but information about the mechanisms involved is lacking. Here, we report that autophagy-related gene 5 (ATG5) is potentially important in protecting dopaminergic neurons in a 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced PD model in zebrafish. Using analyses of zebrafish swimming behavior, in situ hybridization, immunofluorescence, and expressions of genes and proteins related to PD and autophagy, we found that the ATG5 expression level was decreased and autophagy flux was blocked in this model. The ATG5 down-regulation led to the upgrade of PD-associated proteins, such as ?-synuclein, Parkin, and PINK1, aggravation of MPTP-induced PD-mimicking pathological locomotor behavior, DA neuron loss labeled by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) or dopamine transporter (DAT), and blocked autophagy flux in the zebrafish model. ATG5 overexpression alleviated or reversed these PD pathological features, rescued DA neuron cells as indicated by elevated TH/DAT levels, and restored autophagy flux. The role of ATG5 in protecting DA neurons was confirmed by expression of the human atg5 gene in the zebrafish model. Our findings reveal that ATG5 has a role in neuroprotection, and up-regulation of ATG5 may serve as a goal in the development of drugs for PD prevention and management.
Project description:Unbiased estimates of neuron numbers within substantia nigra are crucial for experimental Parkinson's disease models and gene-function studies. Unbiased stereological counting techniques with optical fractionation are successfully implemented, but are extremely laborious and time-consuming. The development of neural networks and deep learning has opened a new way to teach computers to count neurons. Implementation of a programming paradigm enables a computer to learn from the data and development of an automated cell counting method. The advantages of computerized counting are reproducibility, elimination of human error and fast high-capacity analysis. We implemented whole-slide digital imaging and deep convolutional neural networks (CNN) to count substantia nigra dopamine neurons. We compared the results of the developed method against independent manual counting by human observers and validated the CNN algorithm against previously published data in rats and mice, where tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive neurons were counted using unbiased stereology. The developed CNN algorithm and fully cloud-embedded Aiforia™ platform provide robust and fast analysis of dopamine neurons in rat and mouse substantia nigra.
Project description:Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder particularly characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Pesticide exposure has been associated with PD occurrence, and we previously reported that the fungicide benomyl interferes with several cellular processes potentially relevant to PD pathogenesis. Here we propose that benomyl, via its bioactivated thiocarbamate sulfoxide metabolite, inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), leading to accumulation of the reactive dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL), preferential degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, and development of PD. This hypothesis is supported by multiple lines of evidence. (i) We previously showed in mice the metabolism of benomyl to S-methyl N-butylthiocarbamate sulfoxide, which inhibits ALDH at nanomolar levels. We report here that benomyl exposure in primary mesencephalic neurons (ii) inhibits ALDH and (iii) alters dopamine homeostasis. It induces selective dopaminergic neuronal damage (iv) in vitro in primary mesencephalic cultures and (v) in vivo in a zebrafish system. (vi) In vitro cell loss was attenuated by reducing DOPAL formation. (vii) In our epidemiology study, higher exposure to benomyl was associated with increased PD risk. This ALDH model for PD etiology may help explain the selective vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons in PD and provide a potential mechanism through which environmental toxicants contribute to PD pathogenesis.
Project description:The catecholamines dopamine and noradrenaline provide some of the major neuromodulatory systems with far-ranging projections in the brain and spinal cord of vertebrates. However, development of these complex systems is only partially understood. Zebrafish provide an excellent model for genetic analysis of neuronal specification and axonal projections in vertebrates. Here, we analyze the ontogeny of the catecholaminergic projections in zebrafish embryos and larvae up to the fifth day of development and establish the basic scaffold of catecholaminergic connectivity. The earliest dopaminergic diencephalospinal projections do not navigate along the zebrafish primary neuron axonal scaffold but establish their own tracts at defined ventrolateral positions. By using genetic tools, we study quantitative and qualitative contributions of noradrenergic and defined dopaminergic groups to the catecholaminergic scaffold. Suppression of Tfap2a activity allows us to eliminate noradrenergic contributions, and depletion of Otp activity deletes mammalian A11-like Otp-dependent ventral diencephalic dopaminergic groups. This analysis reveals a predominant contribution of Otp-dependent dopaminergic neurons to diencephalospinal as well as hypothalamic catecholaminergic tracts. In contrast, noradrenergic projections make only a minor contribution to hindbrain and spinal catecholaminergic tracts. Furthermore, we can demonstrate that, in zebrafish larvae, ascending catecholaminergic projections to the telencephalon are generated exclusively by Otp-dependent diencephalic dopaminergic neurons as well as by hindbrain noradrenergic groups. Our data reveal the Otp-dependent A11-type dopaminergic neurons as the by far most prominent dopaminergic system in larval zebrafish. These findings are consistent with a hypothesis that Otp-dependent dopaminergic neurons establish the major modulatory system for somatomotor and somatosensory circuits in larval fish.
Project description:The midbrain dopaminergic perikarya are differentially affected in Parkinson?s disease (PD). This study compared the effects of a partial unilateral intrastriatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion model of PD on the number, morphology, and nucleolar volume of dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), ventral tegmental area (VTA), and retrorubral field (RRF). Adult, male rats (n=10) underwent unilateral intrastriatal infusion of 6-OHDA (12.5?g). Lesions were verified by amphetamine-stimulated rotation 7 days post-infusion. Rats were euthanized 14 days after treatment with 6-OHDA and brains were stained with a tyrosine hydroxylase-silver nucleolar (TH-AgNOR) stain. Dopaminergic cell number and morphology in the lesioned and intact hemispheres were quantified using stereological methods. The magnitude of decrease in planimetric volume, neuronal number, cell density, and neuronal volume resulting from 6-OHDA lesion differed between regions, with the SNpc exhibiting the greatest loss of neurons (46%), but the smallest decrease in neuronal volume (13%). The lesion also resulted in a decrease in nucleolar volume that was similar in all three regions (22-26%). These findings indicate that intrastriatal 6-OHDA lesion differentially affects dopaminergic neurons in the SNpc, VTA, and RRF; however, the resulting changes in nucleolar morphology suggest a similar cellular response to the toxin in all three cell populations.
Project description:ATP13A2 is the autosomal recessive causative gene for juvenile-onset Parkinson's disease (PARK9, Parkinson's disease 9), also known as Kufor-Rakeb syndrome. The disease is characterized by levodopa-responsive Parkinsonism, supranuclear gaze palsy, spasticity, and dementia. Previously, we have reported that Atp13a2 deficient medaka fish showed dopaminergic neurodegeneration and lysosomal dysfunction, indicating that lysosome-autophagy impairment might be one of the key pathogeneses of Parkinson's disease. Here, we established Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. We found that the number of TH + neurons in the posterior tuberculum and the locus coeruleus significantly reduced (dopaminergic neurons, 64 % at 4 months and 37 % at 12 months, p < 0.001 and p < 0.05, respectively; norepinephrine neurons, 52 % at 4 months and 40 % at 12 months, p < 0.001 and p < 0.05, respectively) in Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish, proving the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. In addition, we found the reduction (60 %, p < 0.05) of cathepsin D protein expression in Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish using immunoblot. Transmission electron microscopy analysis using middle diencephalon samples from Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish showed lysosome-like bodies with vesicle accumulation and fingerprint-like structures, suggesting lysosomal dysfunction. Furthermore, a significant reduction (p < 0.001) in protein expression annotated with vesicle fusion with Golgi apparatus in Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish by liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry suggested intracellular trafficking impairment. Therefore, we concluded that Atp13a2 deficient zebrafish exhibited degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, lysosomal dysfunction and the possibility of intracellular trafficking impairment, which would be the key pathogenic mechanism underlying Parkinson's disease.
Project description:Mutations in LRRK2 are genetically linked to Parkinson's disease (PD) but its normal biological function is largely unknown. Sheng et al. recently reported that deletion of the WD40 domain of LRRK2 in zebrafish specifically causes PD-like loss of neurons and behavior defect. However, our similar early study and recent confirming experiments using the same reagents reported by Sheng et al. failed to reproduce the phenotype of the loss of dopaminergic neurons, although the mRNA of LRRK2 was molecularly disrupted. Our study suggests that function of LRRK2 and its usefulness to generate zebrafish PD model needs further evaluation.