Studies on the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-2,3-dihydropyridinium species 2,3-MPDP+, the monoamine oxidase catalyzed oxidation product of the nigrostriatal toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)

J Med Chem. 1985 Oct;28(10):1432-6. doi: 10.1021/jm00148a010.


The nigrostriatal toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) is biotransformed by brain monoamine oxidase (MAO) to an unstable dihydropyridinium intermediate that reacts with cyanide ion to form an alpha-cyano-tetrahydropyridine adduct and, in the absence of cyanide ion, undergoes disproportionation to the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium species MPP+ and MPTP. Comparison of the HPLC retention times, diode array UV, and chemical ion mass spectral characteristics of these products with those of synthetic standards led us to propose the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-2,3-dihydropyridinium species 2,3-MPDP+ and 6-cyano-1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine as tentative structure assignments for the dihydropyridinium metabolite and the cyano adduct, respectively. Results presented in this paper confirm the first assignment and establish that, although the proposed 6-cyano adduct is initially formed, the product that was isolated from the mitochondrial incubation mixtures of MPTP and sodium cyanide actually is the isomeric 2-cyano-1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6 -tetrahydropyridine. On the basis of the selective incorporation of deuterium into these products, we provide rational mechanistic interpretations of the disproportionation reaction and the rearrangement of the cyano adducts. These results establish that the MAO-catalyzed bioactivation of MPTP leads to the formation of a variety of reactive molecules that are potentially cytotoxic to nigrostriatal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Cyanides / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pyridines / metabolism*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects


  • Cyanides
  • Pyridines
  • 1-Methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine
  • Monoamine Oxidase