Prosem Lecture: Insights from the DJ-1 Knockout Rat Model of Parkinson Disease

Apr. 24, 2017
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
B62 Goodnight Hall

Topic: Insights from the DJ-1 Knockout Rat Model of Parkinson Disease
Presenter: Katie Yang, BA, Doctoral Student, Neuroscience Training Program: Ciucci Laboratory, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Parkinson Disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder worldwide, yet many deficits that occur within the disease, including those in speech and swallowing, are poorly understood. Our ability to study these progressive aspects of PD, from how they manifest to their underlying neuropathology, is limited by a critical lack of animal models that capture this specific subset of pathology. Loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding the protein DJ-1 result in a rare inherited form of PD in humans, and researchers have generated a genetic DJ-1 knockout rat model in order to study the manifestation of PD pathology. The present study aimed to characterize this pathology at both the behavioral and neurobiological level. To do so, we examined these animals over the course of 8 months and tested for in: 1.) gross motor function, 2.) ultrasonic vocalizations, and 3.) lingual force. Further, we examined the brains of these animals for loss of dopaminergic neurons and terminals as well as possible neuroinflammation. Findings from this study suggest that the DJ-1 knockout rat may be a useful model for studying the gross motor and lingual deficits as well as the link between inflammation and loss of neurons in PD.