Increased Activity of Tyrosine Hydroxylase Leads to Elevated Amphetamine Response and Markers of Oxidative Stress in Transgenic Mice
In Parkinson's disease, noradrenergic cells of the locus coeruleus and dopamine cells within the nigrostriatal pathway undergo profound degeneration. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the production of all catecholamines, including dopamine and noradrenaline, and is selectively expressed in the cells that produce these neurotransmitters. In vitro studies have previously shown that the TH-synthetic system can contribute to the formation of reactive oxygen species. In
... on, animal models of dopamine mishandling demonstrated that free dopamine is neurotoxic. To examine how increased TH activity might influence catecholamine systems in vivo, we generated TH-overexpressing mice (TH-HI) with six total copies of the TH murine gene. A commensurate increase in TH mRNA produced a threefold increase in both total TH protein and phosphorylated TH levels. We found an increased rate of dopamine synthesis in both young and adult mice, reflected by the accumulation of L-DOPA following NSD-1015 administration, as well as elevated dopamine tissue content in young mice and an increased presence of dopamine metabolites at both ages. Adult mice show no difference in baseline locomotor behaviour compared to wildtype littermates, but a have potentiated response to amphetamine. In addition to elevated dopamine turnover in the striatum, TH-HI mice show reduced levels of glutathione and increased levels of cysteinylated catechols. These results indicate that a heightened level of active TH can produce oxidative stress, and may represent a source of toxicity that is specific to catecholamine cells, which are most vulnerable to degeneration in Parkinson's disease.