, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 66-72

Rodent models of tremor

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Abstract

This review focuses on rodent models of tremor, particularly those induced by pharmacological agents. Harmaline is one of the most frequently used tremor-generating drugs and harmaline-induced tremor is regarded as a model of essential tremor. Harmaline acts on inferior olive neurons, causing enhanced neuronal synchrony and rhythmicity in the olivocerebellar system. In addition, it selectively induces cerebellar Purkinje cell death, speculatively because of excessive glutamate release from nerve terminals of the olivocerebellar system onto Purkinje cells. Systemic administration of cholinomimetics can also produce generalized tremor, and muscarinic receptors on striatal neurons are thought to be the best candidate for the tremor-generating mechanism. On the other hand, dopaminergic neurotoxins, which are used in models of parkinsonism, have yet to be used for experimental analysis of tremor, because tremors induced by dopamine depletion in rodents are less remarkable than those induced by harmaline or cholinomimetics. Recently developed gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (A) receptor alpha-1 subunit knockout mice exhibit postural and kinetic tremors, and clearly reproduce the features of essential tremors. Although from a phenomenological point of view, rodent models of tremor cannot entirely mimic human tremor disorders, they have useful advantages in the analysis of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying tremor. Development of convenient and reproducible methods for evaluating rodent tremor is therefore recommended.