Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Patients with PD display a combination of motor symptoms including resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability that worsen over time. These motor symptoms are related to the progressive loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. PD patients also suffer from nonmotor symptoms that may precede the cardinal motor symptoms and that are likely related to pathology in other brain regions. Traditional toxin models of PD have focused on the nigrostriatal pathway and the loss of dopamine neurons in this region, and these models have been important in our understanding of PD and in the development of symptomatic treatments for the disease. However, they are limited in that they do not reproduce the full pathology and progression seen in PD, thus creating a need for better models. The recent discovery of specific genes causing familial forms of PD has contributed to the development of novel genetic mouse models of PD. This review discusses the validity, benefits, and limitations of these new models.

Key Words

α-Synuclein parkin DJ-1 Nurrl Pitx3 mice

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© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc 2005