Peripheral nerve injury elicits microstructural and neurochemical changes in the striatum and substantia nigra of a DYT-TOR1A mouse model with dystonia-like movements.

Rauschenberger L, Krenig EM, Stengl A, Knorr S, Harder TH, Steeg F, Friedrich MU, Grundmann-Hauser K, Volkmann J, Ip CW.
Neurobiol Dis.


The relationship between genotype and phenotype in DYT-TOR1A dystonia as well as the associated motor circuit alterations are still insufficiently understood. DYT-TOR1A dystonia has a remarkably reduced penetrance of 20–30%, which has led to the second-hit hypothesis emphasizing an important role of extragenetic factors in the symptomatogenesis of TOR1A mutation carriers. To analyze whether recovery from a peripheral nerve injury can trigger a dystonic phenotype in asymptomatic hΔGAG3 mice, which overexpress human mutated torsinA, a sciatic nerve crush was applied. An observer-based scoring system as well as an unbiased deep-learning based characterization of the phenotype showed that recovery from a sciatic nerve crush leads to significantly more dystonia-like movements in hΔGAG3 animals compared to wildtype control animals, which persisted over the entire monitored period of 12 weeks. In the basal ganglia, the analysis of medium spiny neurons revealed a significantly reduced number of dendrites, dendrite length and number of spines in the naïve and nerve-crushed hΔGAG3 mice compared to both wildtype control groups indicative of an endophenotypical trait. The volume of striatal calretinin+ interneurons showed alterations in hΔGAG3 mice compared to the wt groups. Nerve-injury related changes were found for striatal ChAT+, parvalbumin+ and nNOS+ interneurons in both genotypes. The dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra remained unchanged in number across all groups, however, the cell volume was significantly increased in nerve-crushed hΔGAG3 mice compared to naïve hΔGAG3 mice and wildtype littermates. Moreover, in vivo microdialysis showed an increase of dopamine and its metabolites in the striatum comparing nerve-crushed hΔGAG3 mice to all other groups. The induction of a dystonia-like phenotype in genetically predisposed DYT-TOR1A mice highlights the importance of extragenetic factors in the symptomatogenesis of DYT-TOR1A dystonia. Our experimental approach allowed us to dissect microstructural and neurochemical abnormalities in the basal ganglia, which either reflected a genetic predisposition or endophenotype in DYT-TOR1A mice or a correlate of the induced dystonic phenotype. In particular, neurochemical and morphological changes of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system were correlated with symptomatogenesis.

Published: Apr 2023