Parkinson's disease--redox mechanisms

Curr Med Chem. 2001 Jun;8(7):809-14. doi: 10.2174/0929867013372995.


Parkinson's disease occurs in 1% of people over the age of 65 when about 60% of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the midbrain are lost. Dopaminergic neurons appear to die by a process of apoptosis that is induced by oxidative stress. Oxygen radicals abstract hydrogen from DNA forming DNA radicals that lead to DNA fragmentation, activation of DNA protective mechanisms, NAD depletion and apoptosis. Oxygen radicals can be formed in dopaminergic neurons by redox cycling of MPP+, the active metabolite of MPTP. This redox cycling mechanism involves the reduction of MPP+ by a number of enzymes, especially flavin containing enzymes, some of which are found in mitochondria. Tyrosine hydroxylase is present in all dopaminergic neurons and is responsible for the synthesis of dopamine. However, tyrosine hydroxylase can form oxygen radicals in a redox mechanism involving its cofactor, tetrahydrobiopterin. Dopamine may be oxidized by monoamine oxidase to form oxygen radicals and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde. This aldehyde may be oxidized by aldehyde dehydrogenase with the formation of oxygen radicals and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid. The redox mechanisms of oxygen radical formation by MPTP, tyrosine hydroxylase, monoamine oxidase and aldehyde dehydrogenase will be discussed. Possible clinical applications of these mechanisms will be briefly presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine / chemistry
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine / metabolism
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*


  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Monoamine Oxidase
  • Dopamine