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Changes in the sympathetic innervation of the gut in rotenone treated mice as possible early biomarker for Parkinson’s disease

Clinical Autonomic Research. 2016 May 13. DOI: 10.1007/s10286-016-0358-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Arnhold M, Dening Y, Chopin M, Arévalo E, Schwarz M, Reichmann H, Gille G, Funk R H W, Pan-Montojo F
Publication Date: 2016




Involvement of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is relatively common in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. PNS alterations appear early in the course of the disease and are responsible for some of the non-motor symptoms observed in PD patients. In previous studies, we have shown that environmental toxins can trigger the disease by acting on the enteric nervous system.

Materials and Methods

Here, we analyzed the effect of mitochondrial Complex I inhibition on sympathetic neuritis in vivo and sympathetic neurons in vitro. Combining in vivo imaging and protein expression profiling.


We found that rotenone, a widely used mitochondrial Complex I inhibitor decreases the density of sympathetic neurites innervating the gut in vivo, while in vitro, it induces the redistribution of intracellular alpha-synuclein and neurite degeneration. Interestingly, sympathetic neurons are much more resistant to rotenone exposure than mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons.


Altogether, these results suggest that enteric sympathetic denervation could be an initial pre-motor alteration in PD progression that could be used as an early biomarker of the disease.


Parkinson’s disease, Enteric sympathetic innervation, Constipation, alpha-synuclein pathology, Biomarker

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