NPJ Parkinsons Dis 9 (1) 118 [2023-07-26; online 2023-07-26]
Metabolism of MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) to the neurotoxin MPP+ in the brain causes permanent Parkinson's disease-like symptoms by destroying dopaminergic neurons in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra in humans and non-human primates. However, the complete molecular pathology underlying MPTP-induced parkinsonism remains poorly understood. We used dual polarity matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging to thoroughly image numerous glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids in coronal brain tissue sections of MPTP-lesioned and control non-human primate brains (Macaca mulatta). The results revealed specific distributions of several sulfatide lipid molecules based on chain-length, number of double bonds, and importantly, hydroxylation stage. More specifically, certain long-chain hydroxylated sulfatides with polyunsaturated chains in the molecular structure were depleted within motor-related brain regions in the MPTP-lesioned animals, e.g., external and internal segments of globus pallidus and substantia nigra pars reticulata. In contrast, certain long-chain non-hydroxylated sulfatides were found to be elevated within the same brain regions. These findings demonstrate region-specific dysregulation of sulfatide metabolism within the MPTP-lesioned macaque brain. The depletion of long-chain hydroxylated sulfatides in the MPTP-induced pathology indicates oxidative stress and oligodendrocyte/myelin damage within the pathologically relevant brain regions. Hence, the presented findings improve our current understanding of the molecular pathology of MPTP-induced parkinsonism within primate brains, and provide a basis for further research regarding the role of dysregulated sulfatide metabolism in PD.