JOURNAL ARTICLE

Interplay between cytosolic dopamine, calcium, and alpha-synuclein causes selective death of substantia nigra neurons

Eugene V Mosharov, Kristin E Larsen, Ellen Kanter, Kester A Phillips, Krystal Wilson, Yvonne Schmitz, David E Krantz, Kazuto Kobayashi, Robert H Edwards, David Sulzer
Neuron 2009 April 30, 62 (2): 218-29
19409267
The basis for selective death of specific neuronal populations in neurodegenerative diseases remains unclear. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a synucleinopathy characterized by a preferential loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN), whereas neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) are spared. Using intracellular patch electrochemistry to directly measure cytosolic dopamine (DA(cyt)) in cultured midbrain neurons, we confirm that elevated DA(cyt) and its metabolites are neurotoxic and that genetic and pharmacological interventions that decrease DA(cyt) provide neuroprotection. L-DOPA increased DA(cyt) in SN neurons to levels 2- to 3-fold higher than in VTA neurons, a response dependent on dihydropyridine-sensitive Ca2+ channels, resulting in greater susceptibility of SN neurons to L-DOPA-induced neurotoxicity. DA(cyt) was not altered by alpha-synuclein deletion, although dopaminergic neurons lacking alpha-synuclein were resistant to L-DOPA-induced cell death. Thus, an interaction between Ca2+, DA(cyt), and alpha-synuclein may underlie the susceptibility of SN neurons in PD, suggesting multiple therapeutic targets.

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