Does Proteasome Inhibition Produce REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder Leading to Parkinson’s Disease? Examining a Progressive Model of Parkinson’s Disease
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A recent model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) suggests that the neuropathological, behavioural and cognitive symptoms progress in stages. There is substantial evidence for a prodromal stage of PD, during which time pre-motor symptoms develop. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is a risk factor for developing PD and may be part of the pre-motor stage. In both disorders, neuropathological α-synuclein aggregates are thought to be a direct cause of the resulting symptoms. One model has shown that in rats, proteasome inhibition produced by systemic exposure to environmental toxins results in α-synuclein pathology and motor behaviour dysfunction that mimics the progression of PD in humans. The present study examined the hypothesis that the systemic proteasome inhibition model would produce pre-Parkinsonian RBD-like pathology in rats. It was expected that sleep disturbances would be seen prior to behavioural disturbances in rats treated systemically with PSI (a proteasome inhibitor). Following baseline sleep recording and training on the inclined beam-traverse task, rats were injected with PSI (a proteasome inhibitor) or ethanol (control), 6 times over 2 wk. Sleep recording over 8 wk and behavioural testing over 16 wk provided no evidence of sleep disturbances or motor dysfunction. Post-mortem immunohistochemical analyses of brain tissue provided no evidence of PSI-associated α-synuclein aggregates in the locus coeruleus, subcoeruleus (dorsal part), or substantia nigra (areas involved in RBD and/or PD). These results did not provide support for RBD as a prodromal phase of PD within the systemic proteasome inhibitor-based model and add to a growing body of research reporting inconsistent findings using this model. We suggest that systemic PSI exposure in rats does not produce a viable model of RBD or PD. Whether RBD is an early symptom in the progression of PD remains to be established.