Living on the edge with too many mouths to feed: why dopamine neurons die

Mov Disord. 2012 Oct;27(12):1478-83. doi: 10.1002/mds.25135. Epub 2012 Sep 24.


Although genes, protein aggregates, environmental toxins, and other factors associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) are widely distributed in the nervous system and affect many classes of neurons, a consistent feature of PD is the exceptional and selective vulnerability of dopamine (DA) neurons of the SNc. What is it about these neurons, among all other neurons in the brain, that makes them so susceptible in PD? We hypothesize that a major contributory factor is the unique cellular architecture of SNc DA neuron axons. Their large, complex axonal arbour puts them under such a tight energy budget that it makes them particularly susceptible to factors that contribute to cell death, including unique molecular characteristics associated with SNc DA neurons and nonspecific, nervous-system-wide factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Death
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / cytology*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Substantia Nigra / cytology
  • Synapses / physiology