Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, especially at the level of complex I of the electronic transport chain, have been proposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease (PD). A plausible source of oxidative stress in nigral dopaminergic neurons is the redox reactions that specifically involve dopamine (DA) and produce various toxic molecules, i.e., free radicals and quinone species (DAQ). It has been shown that DA oxidation products can induce various forms of mitochondrial dysfunction, such as mitochondrial swelling and decreased electron transport chain activity. In the present work, we analyzed the potentially toxic effects of DAQ on mitochondria and, specifically, on the NADH and GSH pools. Our results demonstrate that the generation of DAQ in isolated respiring mitochondria triggers the opening of the permeability transition pore most probably by inducing oxidation of NADH, while GSH levels are not affected. We then characterized in vitro, by UV and NMR spectroscopy, the reactivity of different DA-derived quinones, i.e., dopamine-o-quinone (DQ), aminochrome (AC) and indole-quinone (IQ), toward NADH and GSH. Our results indicate a very diverse reactivity for the different DAQ studied that may contribute to unravel the complex molecular mechanisms underlying oxidative stress and mitochondria dysfunction in the context of PD.
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