Cyclosporin a protects striatal neurons in vitro and in vivo from 3-nitropropionic acid toxicity

Liza Leventhal, Caryl E. Sortwell, Rose Hanbury, Timothy J. Collier, Jeffrey H. Kordower, Stéphane Palfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The neuroprotective properties of cyclosporin A (CsA) are mediated by its ability to prevent mitochondrial permeability transition during exposure to high levels of calcium or oxidative stress. By using the mitochondrial toxin 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP), the present study assessed whether CsA could protect striatal neurons in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, 3NP produced a 20-30% reduction of striatal glutamic acid decarboxylase-immunoreactive (GAD-ir) neurons. A single treatment with CsA protected GAD-ir neurons from 3NP toxicity at lower (0.2 or 1.0 μM), but not at higher (5.0 μM) doses. Similar findings were seen when the cultures were treated twice with cyclosporin. In vivo experiments used the Lewis rat model of Huntington's disease (HD) in which a low 3NP dose was delivered subcutaneously through an osmotic minipump. Rats received unilateral or bilateral intrastriatal saline injections to disrupt the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and facilitate CsA reaching vulnerable neurons. In the first experiment, CsA treated 3NP-lesioned rats displayed significantly more dopamine-and adenosine-3',5'-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein (DARPP32-ir) neurons ipsilateral to BBB disruption compared to the contralateral intact striatum, indicating that disruption of the BBB maybe necessary for CsA's neuroprotective effects. In the second experiment, stereological counts of DARPP32-ir neurons revealed that CsA protected striatal neurons in a dose-dependent manner following bilateral disruption of the striatal BBB. Rats treated with the higher (15 or 20 mg/kg) but not lower (5 mg/kg) doses of CsA displayed greater numbers of DARRP32-ir striatal neurons relative to vehicle-treated 3NP-lesioned rats. Thus, under conditions in which CsA can gain access to striatal neurons, significant protection from 3NP toxicity is observed. Therefore, CsA or more lipophilic analogues of this compound, may be of potential therapeutic benefit by protecting vulnerable neurons from the primary pathological event observed in HD. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-478
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • DARPP32
  • Huntington's disease
  • Rat
  • Stereology
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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