Document Type


Journal Title

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Date

Winter 12-16-2015




UNLABELLED: Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) mediates a broad range of biological responses by activating two related receptors, VIP receptor 1 and 2 (VIPR1 and VIPR2). Although the use of native VIP facilitates neuroprotection, clinical application of the hormone is limited due to VIP's rapid metabolism and inability to distinguish between VIPR1 and VIPR2 receptors. In addition, activation of both receptors by therapeutics may increase adverse secondary toxicities. Therefore, we developed metabolically stable and receptor-selective agonists for VIPR1 and VIPR2 to improve pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic therapeutic end points. Selective agonists were investigated for their abilities to protect mice against MPTP-induced neurodegeneration used to model Parkinson's disease (PD). Survival of tyrosine hydroxylase neurons in the substantia nigra was determined by stereological tests after MPTP intoxication in mice pretreated with either VIPR1 or VIPR2 agonist or after adoptive transfer of splenic cell populations from agonist-treated mice administered to MPTP-intoxicated animals. Treatment with VIPR2 agonist or splenocytes from agonist-treated mice resulted in increased neuronal sparing. Immunohistochemical tests showed that agonist-treated mice displayed reductions in microglial responses, with the most pronounced effects in VIPR2 agonist-treated, MPTP-intoxicated mice. In parallel studies, we observed reductions in proinflammatory cytokine release that included IL-17A, IL-6, and IFN-γ and increases in GM-CSF transcripts in CD4(+) T cells recovered from VIPR2 agonist-treated animals. Moreover, a phenotypic shift of effector to regulatory T cells was observed. These results support the use of VIPR2-selective agonists as neuroprotective agents for PD treatment.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor 2 can elicit immune transformation in a model of Parkinson's disease (PD). Such immunomodulatory capabilities can lead to neuroprotection by attenuating microglial activation and by slowing degradation of neuronal cell bodies and termini in MPTP-intoxicated mice. The protective mechanism arises from altering a Th1/Th2 immune cytokine response into an anti-inflammatory and neuronal sparing profile. These results are directly applicable for the development of novel PD therapies.

MeSH Headings

Animals, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CHO Cells, Cell Line, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Cytokines, Dopaminergic Neurons, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, MPTP Poisoning, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Microglia, Neuroprotective Agents, Oligopeptides, Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, Type II, Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide, Type I, Spleen, Substantia Nigra, Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.