Neuromelanin, aging and neuronal vulnerability in Parkinson's disease
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
In Parkinson's disease (PD) there is a preferential degeneration of neurons containing the dark-brown cytoplasmic pigment neuromelanin, including dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra and noradrenergic neurons of the locus coeruleus, leading to the typical motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease. In humans, neuromelanin appears in early childhood and accumulates progressively with age, the latter being the main risk factor for developing PD. Despite the close and long-established association between neuromelanin and PD, the physiological significance of neuromelanin production and its potential contribution to PD pathogenesis remain unknown because, unlike humans, common laboratory animals such as rodents lack neuromelanin.
We have recently generated the first rodent model exhibiting age-dependent production of human-like neuromelanin, at levels up to those reached in elderly humans. Using this unique model, we assessed whether progressive neuromelanin accumulation may affect neuronal function and viability.
Host: Carlos Matute