Transplantation of DA neurons is actively pursued as a restorative therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD). Pioneering clinical trials using transplants of fetal DA neuroblasts have given promising results, although a number of patients have developed graft-induced dyskinesias (GIDs), and the mechanism underlying this troublesome side effect is still unknown. Here we have used a new model where the activity of the transplanted DA neurons can be selectively modulated using a bimodal chemogenetic (DREADD) approach, allowing either enhancement or reduction of the therapeutic effect. We show that exclusive activation of a cAMP-linked (Gs-coupled) DREADD or serotonin 5-HT6 receptor, located on the grafted DA neurons, is sufficient to induce GIDs. These findings establish a mechanistic link between the 5-HT6 receptor, intracellular cAMP, and GIDs in transplanted PD patients. This effect is thought to be mediated through counteraction of the D2 autoreceptor feedback inhibition, resulting in a dysplastic DA release from the transplant.
Aldrin-Kirk, P., Heuer, A., Wang, G., Mattsson, B., Lundblad, M., Parmar, M., & Björklund, T. (2016). DREADD Modulation of Transplanted DA Neurons Reveals a Novel Parkinsonian Dyskinesia Mechanism Mediated by the Serotonin 5-HT6 Receptor. Neuron, 90(5), 955–968. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2016.04.017