Deficits in forepaw adjusting steps in rats have been proposed as a non- drug-induced model of the akinesia associated with Parkinson's disease. The present study examined the relationship between contralateral forepaw adjusting steps and dopamine depletion after medial forebrain bundle lesions with 6-hydroxydopamine. Depletion of striatal dopamine by >80% resulted in dramatic reductions in the ability of rats to make adjusting steps, but rats with <80% dopamine depletion had no detectable deficit. The deficit in forepaw adjusting steps was evident by three days after lesions and did not recover for up to 13 weeks. Compared to apomorphine-induced rotation, the deficit in adjusting steps was evident at milder dopamine depletion. Discrete striatal lesions were also utilized to localize the striatal subregions that mediate forepaw adjusting steps. Forepaw adjusting steps were reduced after lesions of dorsolateral, ventrolateral or ventrocentral striatum, but not after lesions of dorsomedial, dorsocentral or ventromedial striatum. The reductions in adjusting steps after the discrete striatal lesions were not as severe as after medial forebrain bundle lesions. Furthermore, none of the discrete striatal lesions resulted in rotation after apomorphine administration, although a few resulted in increase in amphetamine-induced rotation. Administration of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine partially reversed the reductions of forepaw adjusting steps in both sets of lesion experiments. Together, these results suggest that forepaw adjusting step deficits in the rat provide a good model for the akinesia of Parkinson's disease both in medial forebrain bundle and striatal lesions, and would be a useful tool for investigating the efficacy of various therapeutic strategies.
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