Planaria are the simplest organisms with bilateral symmetry and a central nervous system (CNS) with cephalization; therefore, they could be useful as model organisms to investigate mechanistic aspects of parkinsonism and to screen potential therapeutic agents. Taking advantage of the organism's anti-tropism towards light, we measured a significantly reduced locomotor velocity in planaria after exposure to 3-iodo-L-tyrosine, an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase that is an enzyme catalyzing the first and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of catecholamines. A simple semi-automatic assay using videotaped experiments and subsequent evaluation by tracking software was also implemented to increase throughput. The dopaminergic regulation of locomotor velocity was confirmed by bromocriptine, a drug whose mechanisms of action to treat Parkinson's disease is believed to be through the stimulation of nerves that control movement.
- Antiparkinsonian agent
- Tyrosine hydroxylase