MPTP and SNpc DA neuronal vulnerability: role of dopamine, superoxide and nitric oxide in neurotoxicity. Minireview

Neurotox Res. 2005;7(3):193-202. doi: 10.1007/BF03036449.


Parkinson disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disease of unknown origin that is characterized, mainly, by a significant reduction in the number of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) of the brain and a dramatic reduction in dopamine levels in the corpus striatum. For reasons that we do not know, the dopamine neuron seems to be more vulnerable to damage than any other neuron in the brain. Although hypotheses of damage to the dopamine neuron include oxidative stress, growth factor decline, excitotoxicity, inflammation in the SNpc and protein aggregation, oxidative stress in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system garners a significant amount of attention. In the oxidative stress hypothesis of PD, superoxide, nitric oxide and dopamine all conspire to create an environment that can be detrimental to the dopamine neuron. MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine), the tool of choice for investigations into the mechanisms involved in the death of dopamine neurons in PD, has been used extensively in attempts to sort out what happens in and around the dopamine neuron. Herein, we review the roles of dopamine, superoxide and nitric oxide in the demise of the dopamine neuron in the MPTP model of PD as it relates to the death of the dopamine neuron noted in PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / cytology*
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism*


  • Superoxides
  • Nitric Oxide
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Dopamine