Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is frequently associated with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, including constipation and defecatory dysfunctions. The mechanisms underlying such disorders are still largely unknown, although the occurrence of a bowel inflammatory condition has been hypothesized. This study examined the impact of central dopaminergic degeneration, induced by intranigral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), on distal colonic excitatory tachykininergic motility in rats. Methods: Animals were euthanized 4 and 8 weeks after 6-OHDA injection. Tachykininergic contractions, elicited by electrical stimulation or exogenous substance P (SP), were recorded in vitro from longitudinal muscle colonic preparations. SP, tachykininergic NK1 receptor, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression, as well as the density of eosinophils and mast cells in the colonic wall, were examined by immunohistochemical analysis. Malondialdehyde (MDA, colorimetric assay), TNF, and IL-1β (ELISA assay) levels were also examined. The polarization of peritoneal macrophages was evaluated by real-time PCR. Results: In colonic preparations, electrically and SP-evoked tachykininergic contractions were increased in 6-OHDA rats. Immunohistochemistry displayed an increase in SP and GFAP levels in the myenteric plexus, as well as NK1 receptor expression in the colonic muscle layer of 6-OHDA rats. MDA, TNF, and IL-1β levels were increased also in colonic tissues from 6-OHDA rats. In 6-OHDA rats, the number of eosinophils and mast cells was increased as compared with control animals, and peritoneal macrophages polarized towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype. Conclusions: The results indicate that the induction of central nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration is followed by bowel inflammation associated with increased oxidative stress, increase in pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, activation of enteric glia and inflammatory cells, and enhancement of colonic excitatory tachykininergic motility.
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