Intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of propidium iodide (PI) in the rat results in a transient movement disorder characterized by nystagmus, ataxia, and shaking. In the present study we used c-Fos as a marker for neuronal activation to investigate the neural substrate underlying this movement disorder. PI was injected into the lateral cerebral ventricle of freely moving rats through a previously implanted cannula. Animals were perfused 3 h after the injection and the brains were processed for c-Fos immunocytochemistry. Paired control animals were injected with saline. After PI injection, a significant Fos expression was seen in the cerebral cortex, thalamic midline nuclei, thalamic intralaminar nuclei, hypothalamus, central gray, pontine nuclei, locus coeruleus, vestibular complex, inferior olive, ventrolateral medulla, nucleus of solitary tract, and deep cerebellar nuclei. Few or no Fos immunoreactive cells were seen in the above structures of the control animals. The present study indicates that a large number of neurons located in many different neural structures are activated following icv injection of PI. Second, consistent with the cerebellar feature of the movement disorder, a major Fos expression was found in the cerebellar circuitry (deep cerebellar nuclei, pontine nuclei, vestibular complex, and inferior olive). It reinforces further the assumption that the movement disorder is due to cerebellar dysfunction caused by PI.
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