Reductions in spontaneous locomotor activity in aged male, but not female, rats in a model of early Parkinson's disease

Wayne A. Cass, Laura E. Peters, Michael P. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The excessive loss of dopamine (DA) neurons that occurs with Parkinson's disease is usually confined to older individuals. While 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) is often used in animal models of DA neuron degeneration, there have been relatively few studies that have examined the effects of 6-OHDA in older animals. In the present study, we compared the effects of a bilateral, partial lesion with 6-OHDA in young (4 months), middle-aged (14 months), and aged (24 months) Fischer-344 rats of both sexes. Animals were given a single injection of vehicle or 100 μg 6-OHDA into the right lateral ventricle. Four weeks later, spontaneous locomotor activity was monitored. Microdialysis experiments were carried out 1 to 3 days later. The 6-OHDA treatments had no effect on horizontal activity or total distance traveled in young adults. However, with aged rats, there was a decrease in both measures in the vehicle-treated control rats compared to young adult controls, and a further decrease in the lesioned aged male rats. The 6-OHDA treatments led to significant decreases in both potassium- and amphetamine-evoked overflow of DA from the striatum in all groups. Thus, partial bilateral lesions of the nigrostriatal DA system led to decreases in evoked release of DA in the striatum of male and female rats of all three ages, but to changes in spontaneous activity only in the aged males. These results indicate that there are both age and sex differences in the brain's response to 6-OHDA, and imply that compensatory or neuroprotective mechanisms in the young brain and aged female brain are more efficient than in the aged male brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 9 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by United States Public Health Service Grants AG17963 and AG00242.


  • 6-Hydroxydopamine
  • Aging
  • Dopamine
  • Sex
  • Striatum
  • Substantia nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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