Conclusions

The understanding of PD and related disorders has been advanced through animal models using genetic, pharmacological, and neurotoxicant manipulation. Each animal model has its own unique strengths and limitations. There is no "best model" for PD. Investigators must select the most appropriate model for the specific research question under investigation. Therefore, justification of nonhuman primates, the 6-OHDA rat, or the MPTP-mouse can be made in different cases and the most appropriate model should be selected. The nonhuman primate, rodent, cat, and Drosophila models have contributed to the development of symptomatic (dopamine modulation), neuroprotective (antioxidants, free-radical scavengers), and restorative (growth factors, transplantation) therapies. In addition, these animal models have furthered the understanding of important aspects in the human condition shedding light on critical aspects of PD, including motor complications (wearing-off and dysk-inesia), neuronal cell death, nondopaminergic systems, and neuroplasticity of the basal ganglia. Future direction in PD research is through the continued development of animal models with altered genes and proteins of interest. In conjunction with existing models, these genetic-based models will help researchers better understand PD and will lead to improved treatments and the eventual cure of PD and related disorders.

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