Rats suffering from experimental hemiparkinsonism induced by a unilateral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the left area ventralis tegmenti showed a strong ipsilateral deviation and scoliosis-like skeletal deformity. The rats often showed single rotatory curves affecting the thoracic and lumbar regions, although cases with multiple curves were also found. The severity of the scoliosis was closely related to a decrease in extracellular striatal dopamine measured with microdialysis and to the development of postsynaptic dopamine receptor supersensitivity, functionally evaluated with rotational behaviour elicited with apomorphine. Indeed, rats with the strongest dopamine depletion (greater than 95%) and the strongest rotational responses showed the sharpest spinal deviation and skeletal deformity. These findings agree with the clinical observations that scoliosis occurs in patients with Parkinson's disease and its direction is correlated with the side of the major signs and symptoms of parkinsonism.
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