Mechanisms underlying the dysregulation of postural stability in dopamine-depleted rates
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The work described in this dissertation aims to understand how postural instability (PI), a troubling symptom of advanced Parkinson's disease (PD) in humans, develops from the degeneration of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons characteristic of PD. The studies herein (1) outline the development of clinically relevant methods for evaluating PI in experimental rodents, (2) indicate that PI may not result directly from disruption of dopamine systems but may instead arise from non-dopaminergic changes that occur subsequent to dopamine depletion, and (3) search for specific evidence of plasticity or degeneration outside of the damaged nigrostriatal dopamine system that may be linked to the development of PI. It is hoped that this work will help lay the foundation for the development of novel prophylactic treatments aimed at preventing the progression of PD to advanced stages where treatment-resistant symptoms such as PI appear.