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Free Content Neuromelanin associated redox-active iron is increased in the substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson's disease

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Degeneration of dopaminergic neurones during Parkinson's disease is most extensive in the subpopulation of melanized-neurones located in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Neuromelanin is a dark pigment produced in the dopaminergic neurones of the human substantia nigra and has the ability to bind a variety of metal ions, especially iron. Post-mortem analyses of the human brain have established that oxidative stress and iron content are enhanced in association with neuronal death. As redox-active iron (free Fe2+ form) and other transition metals have the ability to generate highly reactive hydroxyl radicals by a catalytic process, we investigated the redox activity of neuromelanin (NM)-aggregates in a group of parkinsonian patients, who presented a statistically significant reduction (− 70%) in the number of melanized-neurones and an increased non-heme (Fe3+) iron content as compared with a group of matched-control subjects. The level of redox activity detected in neuromelanin-aggregates was significantly increased (+ 69%) in parkinsonian patients and was highest in patients with the most severe neuronal loss. This change was not observed in tissue in the immediate vicinity of melanized-neurones. A possible consequence of an overloading of neuromelanin with redox-active elements is an increased contribution to oxidative stress and intraneuronal damage in patients with Parkinson's disease.
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Keywords: Parkinson's disease; iron; neuromelanin; redox activity; substantia nigra

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.409, Faculté de Médecine X. Bichat, Paris, France 2: U.360, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière 3: INSERM, U.289, and

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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