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Background: Prostaglandins are products of the cyclooxygenase pathway, which is implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Limited knowledge is available on mechanisms by which prostaglandins contribute to PD neurodegeneration. To address this gap, we focused on the prostaglandin PGD2/J2 signaling pathway, because PGD2 is the most abundant prostaglandin in the brain, and the one that increases the most under pathological conditions. Moreover, PGJ2 is spontaneously derived from PGD2.

Methods: In this study, we determined in rats the impact of unilateral nigral PGJ2-microinfusions on COX-2, lipocalin-type PGD2 synthase (L-PGDS), PGD2/J2 receptor 2 (DP2), and 15 hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH). Nigral dopaminergic (DA) and microglial distribution and expression levels of these key factors of the prostaglandin D2/J2 pathway were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. PGJ2-induced motor deficits were assessed with the cylinder test. We also determined whether oral treatment with ibuprofen improved the PD-like pathology induced by PGJ2.

Results: PGJ2 treatment induced progressive PD-like pathology in the rats. Concomitant with DA neuronal loss in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), PGJ2-treated rats exhibited microglia and astrocyte activation and motor deficits. In DA neurons, COX-2, L-PGDS, and 15-PGDH levelsincreased significantly in PGJ2-treated rats compared to controls, while DP2 receptor levels were unchanged. In microglia, DP2 receptors were basically non-detectable, while COX-2 and L-PGDS levels increased upon PGJ2-treatment, and 15-PGDH remained unchanged. 15-PGDH was also detected in oligodendrocytes. Notably, ibuprofen prevented most PGJ2-induced PD-like pathology.

Conclusions: The PGJ2-induced rat model develops progressive PD pathology, which is a hard-to-mimic aspect of this disorder. Moreover, prevention of most PGJ2-induced PD-like pathology with ibuprofen suggests a positive feedback mechanism between PGJ2 and COX-2 that could lead to chronic neuroinflammation. Notably, this is the first study that analyzes the nigral dopaminergic and microglial distribution and levels of factors of the PGD2/J2 signaling pathway in rodents. Our findings support the notions that upregulation of COX-2 and L-PGDS may be important in the PGJ2 evoked PD-like pathology, and that neuronal DP2 receptor antagonists and L-PGDS inhibitors may be novel pharmacotherapeutics to relieve neuroinflammation-mediated neurodegeneration in PD, circumventing the adverse side effects of cyclooxygenase inhibitors.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, available at DOI: 10.1186/s12974-018-1305-3.

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