Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most frequent neurodegenerative disorders. Its main pathophysiological characteristic is the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta followed by a lack of striatal dopaminergic input and a consequent disinhibition of tonically active cholinergic interneurons. The resulting striatal hypercholinism causes major motor symptoms in PD. Anticholinergic pharmacotherapies have antiparkinsonian effects on motor symptoms, but, due to systemic actions, also numerous severe side effects occur on a regular basis. To circumvent these side effects, a local anticholinergic therapy acting exclusively in the striatum would be reasonable. Botulinum neurotoxin-A (BoNT-A) is synthesized by Clostridium botulinum
and blocks the release of acetylcholine from the presynaptic bouton. For several decades, BoNT-A has been used successfully for medical and cosmetic purposes to induce controlled paralyses of single muscles. Our group and others investigated the experimental treatment of striatal hypercholinism by the direct injection of BoNT-A into the striatum of rats and mice as well as of hemiparkinsonian animal models. This review gives an overview of the most important results of the experimental intrastriatal BoNT-A application, with a focus on hemiparkinsonian rats.
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