Autoradiography of [14C]paraquat or [14C]diquat in frogs and mice: accumulation in neuromelanin

Neurosci Lett. 1988 Oct 31;93(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(88)90002-x.


The herbicide paraquat has been suggested as a causative agent for Parkinson's disease because of its structural similarity to a metabolite of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), which may induce a parkinsonism-like condition. MPTP as well as its metabolite 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridine have melanin affinity, and the parkinsonism-inducing potency of MPTP is much stronger in species with melanin in the nerve cells. Autoradiography of [3H]MPTP in experimental animals has shown accumulation in melanin-containing tissues, including pigmented neurons. In the present whole body autoradiographic study accumulation and retention was seen in neuromelanin in frogs after i.p. injection of [14C]paraquat or [14C]diquat. By means of whole body autoradiography of [14C]diquat in mice (a species with no or very limited amounts of neuromelanin) a low, relatively uniformly distributed level of radioactivity was observed in brain tissue. Accumulation of toxic chemical compounds, such as paraquat, in neuromelanin may ultimately cause lesions in the pigmented nerve cells, leading to Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Diquat / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Melanins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Paraquat / pharmacokinetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Pyridinium Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rana temporaria
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Melanins
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • neuromelanin
  • Diquat
  • Paraquat