Histamine-4 receptor antagonist ameliorates Parkinson-like pathology in the striatum

Qiuyuan Fang, Helena Xicoy, Junqing Shen, Sabina Luchetti, Di Dai, Pei Zhou, Xin-Rui Qi, Gerard J M Martens, Inge Huitinga, Dick F Swaab, Chunqing Liu, Ling Shan

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Growing evidence indicates that microglia activation and a neuroinflammatory trigger contribute to dopaminergic cell loss in Parkinson's disease (PD). Furthermore, increased density of histaminergic fibers and enhanced histamine levels have been observed in the substantia nigra of PD-postmortem brains. Histamine-induced microglial activation is mediated by the histamine-4 receptor (H4R). In the current study, gene set enrichment and pathway analyses of a PD basal ganglia RNA-sequencing dataset revealed that upregulation of H4R was in the top functional category for PD treatment targets. Interestingly, the H4R antagonist JNJ7777120 normalized the number of nigrostriatal dopaminergic fibers and striatal dopamine levels in a rotenone-induced PD rat model. These improvements were accompanied by a reduction of α-synuclein-positive inclusions in the striatum. In addition, intracerebroventricular infusion of JNJ7777120 alleviated the morphological changes in Iba-1-positive microglia and resulted in a lower tumor necrosis factor-α release from this brain region, as well as in ameliorated apomorphine-induced rotation behaviour. Finally, JNJ7777120 also restored basal ganglia function by decreasing the levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the 5-hydroxyindoleactic acid to serotonin (5-HIAA/5-HT) concentration ratios in the striatum of the PD model. Our results highlight H4R inhibition in microglia as a promising and specific therapeutic target to reduce or prevent neuroinflammation, and as such the development of PD pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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