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Relationship: 910


The title of the KER should clearly define the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream and which is downstream). Consequently all KER titles take the form “upstream KE leads to downstream KE”.  More help

Degeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway leads to Parkinsonian motor deficits

Upstream event
Upstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help
Downstream event
Downstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

This table is automatically generated upon addition of a KER to an AOP. All of the AOPs that are linked to this KER will automatically be listed in this subsection. Clicking on the name of the AOP in the table will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Inhibition of the mitochondrial complex I of nigro-striatal neurons leads to parkinsonian motor deficits adjacent High High Andrea Terron (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed

Taxonomic Applicability

Select one or more structured terms that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER. In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER. Authors can indicate the relevant taxa for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 30-31 and 37-38 of User Handbook) More help

Sex Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant sex for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of the User Handbook). More help

Life Stage Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant life stage for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of User Handbook). More help

Key Event Relationship Description

Provide a brief, descriptive summation of the KER. While the title itself is fairly descriptive, this section can provide details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves (see page 39 of the User Handbook). This description section can be viewed as providing the increased specificity in the nature of upstream perturbation (KEupstream) that leads to a particular downstream perturbation (KEdownstream), while allowing the KE descriptions to remain generalised so they can be linked to different AOPs. The description is also intended to provide a concise overview for readers who may want a brief summation, without needing to read through the detailed support for the relationship (covered below). Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs that are not part of this KER, other KERs or other AOPs. This will ensure that the KER is modular and can be used by other AOPs. More help

Degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neuron terminals in the striatum and the degeneration of DA neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacts (SNpc) are the defining histopathological events observed in idiopathic, familial, and toxicant-evoked cases of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) (Tolwani et al. 1999; Bove et al. 2012). The loss of nigrostriatal DA neurons leads to a decline in the levels of DA in the striatum (Koller et al. 1992). Striatal DA is involved in the modulation of extrapyramidal motor control circuits. A decline in striatal DA leads to an overactivation of the two principal basal ganglia output nuclei (GPi/STN). Therefore, the inhibitory GABAergic neurons that project to thalamo-cortical structures are overactivated and inhibit cortical pyramidal motor output performance. This inhibited output activity is responsible for key clinical symptoms of PD such as bradykinesia and rigor.

Evidence Supporting this KER

Assembly and description of the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP is an important step in the AOP development process that sets the stage for overall assessment of the AOP (see pages 49-56 of the User Handbook). To do this, biological plausibility, empirical support, and the current quantitative understanding of the KER are evaluated with regard to the predictive relationships/associations between defined pairs of KEs as a basis for considering WoE (page 55 of User Handbook). In addition, uncertainties and inconsistencies are considered. More help
Biological Plausibility
Define, in free text, the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream. What are the structural or functional relationships between the KEs? For example, there is a functional relationship between an enzyme’s activity and the product of a reaction it catalyses. Supporting references should be included. However, it is recognised that there may be cases where the biological relationship between two KEs is very well established, to the extent that it is widely accepted and consistently supported by so much literature that it is unnecessary and impractical to cite the relevant primary literature. Citation of review articles or other secondary sources, like text books, may be reasonable in such cases. The primary intent is to provide scientifically credible support for the structural and/or functional relationship between the pair of KEs if one is known. The description of biological plausibility can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured (see page 40 of the User Handbook for further information).   More help

The mechanistic understanding of striatal DA and its regulatory role in the extrapyramidal motor control system is well established (Alexander et al. 1986; Penney et al. 1986; Albin et al. 1989; DeLong et al. 1990; Obeso et al. 2008; Blandini et al. 2000). The selective degeneration of DA neurons in the SNpc (and the subsequent decline in striatal DA levels) have been known to be linked to PD symptoms for more than 50 years (Ehringer et al. 1960). The reduction of DA in the striatum is characteristic for all etiologies of PD (idiopathic, familial, chronic manganese exposure) and related parkinsonian disorders (Bernheimer et al. 1973), and it is not observed in other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s Diseases (Reynolds et al. 1986). In more progressive stages of PD, not only a loss of DA neuronal terminals in the striatum, but also a degeneration of the entire DA neuron cell bodies in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) was detected (Leenders et al. 1986; Bernheimer et al. 1973). The different forms of PD exhibit variations in the degradation pattern of the SNpc DA neurons. In idiopathic PD, for example, the putamen is more severely affected than the caudate nucleus (Moratalla et al. 1992; Snow et al. 2000). All different PD forms however are characterized by the loss in striatal DA that is paralleled by impaired motor output (Bernheimer et al. 1973). Characteristic clinical symptoms of motor deficit (bradykinesia, tremor, or rigidity) of PD are observed when more than 80 % of striatal DA is depleted (Koller et al. 1992). These findings on the correlation of a decline in striatal DA levels as a consequence of SNpc DA neuronal degeneration with the onset of clinical PD symptoms in man provide the rationale for the current standard therapies that aim to supplement striatal DA, either by the application of L-DOPA, or by a pharmacological inhibition of the endogenous DA degradation-enzyme monoaminde oxidase B (MAO-B). These treatments result in an elevation of striatal DA that is correlated with an improvement of motor performance (Calne et al 1970). The success of these therapies in man as well as in experimental animal models clearly confirms the causal role of dopamine depletion for PD motor symptoms.

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
In addition to outlining the evidence supporting a particular linkage, it is also important to identify inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship. Additionally, while there are expected patterns of concordance that support a causal linkage between the KEs in the pair, it is also helpful to identify experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. Identification of uncertainties and inconsistencies contribute to evaluation of the overall WoE supporting the AOPs that contain a given KER and to the identification of research gaps that warrant investigation (seep pages 41-42 of the User Handbook).Given that AOPs are intended to support regulatory applications, AOP developers should focus on those inconsistencies or gaps that would have a direct bearing or impact on the confidence in the KER and its use as a basis for inference or extrapolation in a regulatory setting. Uncertainties that may be of academic interest but would have little impact on regulatory application don’t need to be described. In general, this section details evidence that may raise questions regarding the overall validity and predictive utility of the KER (including consideration of both biological plausibility and empirical support). It also contributes along with several other elements to the overall evaluation of the WoE for the KER (see Section 4 of the User Handbook).  More help
  • Motor abnormalities observed in PD display large interindividual variations.
  • The model of striatal DA loss and its influence on motor output ganglia does not allow to explain specific motor abnormalities observed in PD (e.g. resting tremor vs bradykinesia) (Obeso et al. 2000). Other neurotransmitters (Ach) may play additional roles.
  • There are some reports indicating that in subacute rotenone or MPTP models (non-human primates), a significant, sometimes complete, recovery of motor deficits can be observed after termination of toxicant treatment. While the transient loss of striatal DA can be explained by an excessive release of DA under acute toxicant treatment, the reported losses of TH-positive neurons in the SNpc and their corresponding nerve terminals in the striatum are currently not explained (Petroske et al. 2001).
  • In MPTP treated baboons, the ventral region of the pars compacta was observed to be more severely degenerated that the dorsal region. This pattern is similar to the degeneration pattern in idiopathic PD in humans. These observations indicate that two subpopulations of nigrostriatal DA neurons with different vulnerabilities might exist (Varastet et al. 1994).
  • According to the classical model of basal ganglia organization, DA is assumed to have a dichotomous effect on neurons belonging either to the direct or indirect pathway. More recent evidence however rather indicates that D1 and D2 receptors are expressed on most striatal neurons in parallel (Aizman et al. 2000).
  • Large variability exists regarding the onset of the downstream AO. This is dependent upon the the stressor used and the route of exposure and variability in the experimentl outcome consequent to differences in the route of exposure is a frequent inconsistencies.
Response-response Relationship
This subsection should be used to define sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs. In particular, information regarding the general form of the relationship (e.g., linear, exponential, sigmoidal, threshold, etc.) should be captured if possible. If there are specific mathematical functions or computational models relevant to the KER in question that have been defined, those should also be cited and/or described where possible, along with information concerning the approximate range of certainty with which the state of the KEdownstream can be predicted based on the measured state of the KEupstream (i.e., can it be predicted within a factor of two, or within three orders of magnitude?). For example, a regression equation may reasonably describe the response-response relationship between the two KERs, but that relationship may have only been validated/tested in a single species under steady state exposure conditions. Those types of details would be useful to capture.  More help
This sub-section should be used to provide information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). This can be useful information both in terms of modelling the KER, as well as for analyzing the critical or dominant paths through an AOP network (e.g., identification of an AO that could kill an organism in a matter of hours will generally be of higher priority than other potential AOs that take weeks or months to develop). Identification of time-scale can also aid the assessment of temporal concordance. For example, for a KER that operates on a time-scale of days, measurement of both KEs after just hours of exposure in a short-term experiment could lead to incorrect conclusions regarding dose-response or temporal concordance if the time-scale of the upstream to downstream transition was not considered. More help
Known modulating factors
This sub-section presents information regarding modulating factors/variables known to alter the shape of the response-response function that describes the quantitative relationship between the two KEs (for example, an iodine deficient diet causes a significant increase in the slope of the relationship; a particular genotype doubles the sensitivity of KEdownstream to changes in KEupstream). Information on these known modulating factors should be listed in this subsection, along with relevant information regarding the manner in which the modulating factor can be expected to alter the relationship (if known). Note, this section should focus on those modulating factors for which solid evidence supported by relevant data and literature is available. It should NOT list all possible/plausible modulating factors. In this regard, it is useful to bear in mind that many risk assessments conducted through conventional apical guideline testing-based approaches generally consider few if any modulating factors. More help
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
This subsection should define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits? In some cases where feedback processes are measurable and causally linked to the outcome, they should be represented as KEs. However, in most cases these features are expected to predominantly influence the shape of the response-response, time-course, behaviours between selected KEs. For example, if a feedback loop acts as compensatory mechanism that aims to restore homeostasis following initial perturbation of a KE, the feedback loop will directly shape the response-response relationship between the KERs. Given interest in formally identifying these positive or negative feedback, it is recommended that a graphical annotation (page 44) indicating a positive or negative feedback loop is involved in a particular upstream to downstream KE transition (KER) be added to the graphical representation, and that details be provided in this subsection of the KER description (see pages 44-45 of the User Handbook).  More help

Domain of Applicability

As for the KEs, there is also a free-text section of the KER description that the developer can use to explain his/her rationale for the structured terms selected with regard to taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability, or provide a more generalizable or nuanced description of the applicability domain than may be feasible using standardized terms. More help

Parkinonian disorders are generally recognized as progressive age-related human neurodegenerative diseases more prevalent in males. However, the anatomy and function of the nigrostriatal pathway is conserved across mammalian species (Barron et al. 2010) and no sex and species restrictions were evidenciated using the chemical stressors rotenone and MPTP. It should be noted that animal behaviour models can only be considered as surrogates of human motor disorders as occuring in Parkinson's disease.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description using the appropriate format. Ideally, the list of references should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide (OECD, 2015). More help

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Alam M, Schmidt WJ (2004) L-DOPA reverses the hypokinetic behaviour and rigidity in rotenone-treated rats. Behav Brain Res. 153(2):439-46. Albin RL, Young AB, Penney JB (1989) The functional anatomy of basal ganglia disorders. Trends Neurosci. 12(10):366-75.

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Benamer HT, Patterson J, Wyper DJ, Hadley DM, Macphee GJ, Grosset DG (2000) Correlation of Parkinson's disease severity and duration with 123I-FP-CIT SPECT striatal uptake. Mov Disord. 15(4):692-8.

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Bernheimer H, Birkmayer W, Hornykiewicz O, Jellinger K, Seitelberger F (1973) Brain dopamine and the syndromes of Parkinson and Huntington. Clinical, morphological and neurochemical correlations. J Neurol Sci. 20(4):415-55.

Bezard E, Dovero S, Prunier C, Ravenscroft P, Chalon S, Guilloteau D, Crossman AR, Bioulac B, Brotchie JM, Gross CE (2001) Relationship between the appearance of symptoms and the level of nigrostriatal degeneration in a progressive 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned macaque model of Parkinson's disease. J Neurosci. 21(17):6853-61.

Blandini F, Nappi G, Tassorelli C, Martignoni E (2000) Functional changes of the basal ganglia circuitry in Parkinson's disease. Prog Neurobiol. 62(1):63-88.

Blesa J, Pifl C, Sánchez-González MA, Juri C, García-Cabezas MA, Adánez R, Iglesias E, Collantes M, Peñuelas I, Sánchez-Hernández JJ, Rodríguez-Oroz MC, Avendaño C, Hornykiewicz O, Cavada C, Obeso JA (2012) The nigrostriatal system in the presymptomatic and symptomatic stages in the MPTP monkey model: a PET, histological and biochemical study. Neurobiol Dis. 48(1):79-91.

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Kordower JH, Freeman TB, Chen EY, Mufson EJ, Sanberg PR, Hauser RA, Snow B, Olanow CW (1998) Fetal nigral grafts survive and mediate clinical benefit in a patient with Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 13(3):383-93.

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Tolwani RJ, Jakowec MW, Petzinger GM, Green S, Waggie K (1999) Experimental models of Parkinson's disease: insights from many models. Lab Anim Sci. 49(4):363-71.

Varastet M, Riche D, Maziere M, Hantraye P (1994) Chronic MPTP treatment reproduces in baboons the differential vulnerability of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons observed in Parkinson's disease. Neuroscience. 63(1):47-56.

Widner H, Tetrud J, Rehncrona S, Snow B, Brundin P, Gustavii B, Björklund A, Lindvall O, Langston JW. (1992) Bilateral fetal mesencephalic grafting in two patients with parkinsonism induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). N Engl J Med. 327(22):1556-63.