Neuromelanin-containing neurons of the substantia nigra accumulate iron and aluminum in Parkinson's disease: a LAMMA study

Brain Res. 1992 Oct 16;593(2):343-6. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(92)91334-b.


The Laser Microprobe Mass Analyzer (LAMMA) is a sensitive instrument for identifying and localizing trace elements in tissue samples. Using LAMMA, we have examined melanin-containing neurons of the substantia nigra in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and controls. We found that iron significantly accumulates within neuromelanin granules of patients with PD compared to controls. Increased aluminum was found in the neuromelanin granules of 2 of 3 PD cases but in no controls. The accumulation of iron and aluminum, which are known to promote oxidant stress, may account for the selective degeneration of neuromelanin-containing neurons in PD.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / analysis
  • Aluminum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Lasers
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Melanins / analysis*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology*
  • Trace Elements / analysis
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*


  • Melanins
  • Trace Elements
  • neuromelanin
  • Aluminum
  • Iron