Identification of altered microRNAs in serum of a mouse model of Parkinson's disease

Hector Rosas-Hernandez, Srinivasulu Chigurupati, James Raymick, Bonnie Robinson, Elvis Cuevas, Joseph Hanig, Sumit Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease, whose hallmark is the loss of dopamine terminals in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). PD is usually diagnosed after the appearance of motor symptoms, when about 70% of neurons in the SNpc have already been lost. Because of that, it is important to search for new methods that aid in the early diagnosis of PD. In recent years, microRNAs (miRs) have emerged as potential biomarkers for a variety of diseases and hold the potential to be used to aid in the diagnosis of PD. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize if specific miRs are differentially expressed in serum in a mouse model of PD. To induce PD-like damage, mice were subcutaneously injected with 25 mg/kg of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine hydrochloride (MPTP) by administering 10 doses over a period of 5 weeks, with 3.5 days between doses. Expression of 71 different microRNAs was quantified in serum separated from blood collected at day 35, using next-generation sequencing. Histological analysis and quantification of neurotransmitters were performed to confirm dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Chronic MPTP treatment induced loss of dopaminergic terminals in the SNpc and caudate putamen, confirmed by a decrease in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter positive cells. In addition, MPTP decreased the concentration of dopamine and its metabolites in the SNpc, simulating the damage observed in PD. From the 71 miRs analyzed, only 4 were differentially expressed after MPTP treatment. Serum levels of miR19b, miR124, miR126a and miR133b were significantly decreased in MPTP-treated mice compared to control. These data suggest that specific miRs are downregulated in a pre-clinical model of PD and hold the potential to be used as biomarkers to aid in the diagnosis of this disease. Further experiments need to be conducted to validate the use of these miRs as biomarkers of PD in additional pre-clinical models as well as in samples from patients diagnosed with PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • MPTP
  • Micro RNA
  • Neurotoxin
  • Parkinson disease
  • Serum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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