Dysregulated autophagy, whether excessive or downregulated, has been thought to be associated with neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease. Accordingly, the present study was carried out to investigate whether 3-methyladenine, an autophagy inhibitor, can modulate the effects of rotenone on dopaminergic neurons in primary mesencephalic cell culture. Cultures were prepared from embryonic mouse mesencephala at gestation day 14. Four groups of cultures were treated on the 10th DIV for 48 h as follows: the first was kept as an untreated control, the second was treated with 3-methyladenine alone (1, 10, 100, 200 mM), the third was treated with 20 nM rotenone and the fourth was co-treated with 20 nM rotenone and 3-methyladenine (1, 10, 100, 200 mM). On the 12th DIV, cultured cells were stained immunohistochemically against tyrosine hydroxylase and culture media were used to measure the levels of lactate dehydrogenase. 3- methyladenine had no effects on both the survival of dopaminergic neurons and the release of lactate dehydrogenase. Rotenone significantly decreased the number of dopaminergic neurons and increased the levels of lactate dehydrogenase in the culture media. When cultures concomitantly treated with 3-methyladenine and rotenone, 3-methyladenine had no effect against rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell damage and lactate dehydrogenase release into the culture medium. In conclusion, the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine could not modulate rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell damage in primary mesencephalic cell culture.
KEY WORDS: Autophagy; Dopaminergic neurons; Parkinson’s disease; Rotenone; 3-methyladenine.