Behavioural analysis of unilateral monoamine depletion in the marmoset
Unilateral stereotaxic injections of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the nigrostriatal bundle of marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) produced substantial losses of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive neurons from the substantia nigra, and mean dopamine (DA) depletions of 98–99% in the caudate nucleus, putamen and nucleus accumbens, and of 91-97% in frontal cortex, on the side of the lesion. Noradrenaline (NA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) levels were also affected. Behavioural tests conducted pre-operatively and at regular intervals during the 6mths following surgery revealed persistent deficits in the lesioned marmosets as a group compared with sham-lesioned controls, although individual marmosets sometimes recovered or showed no initial deficit on some tests. The main behavioural effects of the lesions were as follows: (i) an increase in the time spent with the head positioned ipsilaterally with respect to the rest of the body; (ii) ipsilateral spontaneous and amphetamine-induced rotation, although occasional intermittent periods of contralateral rotation and head biases were also recorded; (iii) contralateral apomorphine-induced rotation; (iv) reduced spontaneous activity; (v) ipsilateral hand preference on a conveyor belt task, although hand skill (measured as percentage errors when the speed of the belt was increased) was not affected; (vi) neglect of contralateral stimuli, both at the conveyor belt where lesioned monkeys often failed to respond on trails on which apple pieces arrived from the contralateral side, and on a test of sensorimotor neglect in which adhesive labels were placed around both feet. Comparisons of biochemical measures of the lesion with behavioural scores in individual monkeys suggest that DA depletions in excess of 95% are essential for long-term behavioural deficits.