The loss of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons and reduced motor abilities are consequences of Parkinson's Disease. Mutations in the LRRK2 and alpha synuclein (SNCA) genes are associated with familial Parkinson's disease and affect the nigrostriatal pathway.
The rat as an experimental organism can offer some unique strengths compared to mice:
rats can perform more sophisticated behavioral tasks,
are better suited for electrophysiological multichannel recordings, and
the nigrostriatal circuit of the rat is more sensitive to insults than that of mice.