Alterations of dopaminergic and noradrenergic innervations in motor cortex in Parkinson's disease

Ann Neurol. 1991 Sep;30(3):365-74. doi: 10.1002/ana.410300308.


The motor areas of the cerebral cortex contain dense dopaminergic and noradrenergic innervation in humans. We looked for changes of these innervations in cases with Parkinson's disease (PD). The density of fibers immunolabeled with tyrosine hydroxylase or dopamine-beta-hydroxylase was evaluated in the primary motor, premotor, and prefrontal cortical regions in 6 cases with PD and 7 control cases. Reductions of both noradrenergic and dopaminergic cortical innervations were observed, with similar magnitudes of reduction found in the motor and prefrontal regions of the cortex. Depletion of noradrenergic innervation was diffuse, involving all cortical laminae. Depletion of dopaminergic innervation was laminar specific, with the most significant reductions in layers I and II; reductions in layers V and VI were either less marked (prefrontal cortex) or not detectable (primary motor). The results suggest the existence of two separate mesocortical dopaminergic systems in humans, with the one distributing to upper cortical layers being preferentially involved in PD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Dopamine / analysis
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / analysis*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Locus Coeruleus / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / pathology*
  • Norepinephrine / analysis
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis*


  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine