Introduction: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease caused by selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Metallothionein has been shown to act as a neuroprotectant in various brain injury. Thus, this study aims to identify the effects of full-length human metallothionein 2 peptide (hMT2) in paraquat-induced brain injury in the zebrafish. Methodology: A total of 80 adult zebrafish were divided into 4 groups namely control, paraquat-treated, pre-hMT2-treated, and post-hMT2-treated groups. Fish were treated with paraquat intraperitoneally every 3 days for 15 days. hMT2 were injected intracranially on day 0 (pre-treated group) and day 16 (post-treated group). Fish were sacrificed on day 22 and the brains were collected for qPCR, ELISA and immunohistochemistry analysis. Results: qPCR analysis showed that paraquat treatment down-regulated the expression of genes related to dopamine activity and biosynthesis (dat and th1) and neuroprotective agent (bdnf). Paraquat treatment also up-regulated the expression of the mt2, smtb and proinflammatory genes (il-1α, il-1β, tnf-α and cox-2). hMT2 treatment was able to reverse the effects of paraquat. Lipid peroxidation decreased in the paraquat and pre-hMT2-treated groups. However, lipid peroxidation increased in the post-hMT2-treated group. Paraquat treatment also led to a reduction of dopaminergic neurons while their numbers showed an increase following hMT2 treatment. Conclusion: Paraquat has been identified as one of the pesticides that can cause the death of dopaminergic neurons and affect dopamine biosynthesis. Treatment with exogenous hMT2 could reverse the effects of paraquat in the zebrafish brain.
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