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Pharmacol Rev. 2007 Jun;59(2):125-50. Epub 2007 Mar 22.

Neurotoxicity and metabolism of the catecholamine-derived 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde: the role of aldehyde dehydrogenase.

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  • 1Molecular Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Program, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Aldehydes are highly reactive molecules formed during the biotransformation of numerous endogenous and exogenous compounds, including biogenic amines. 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde is the aldehyde metabolite of dopamine, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde is the aldehyde metabolite of both norepinephrine and epinephrine. There is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that these compounds are neurotoxic, and it has been recently hypothesized that neurodegenerative disorders may be associated with increased levels of these biogenic aldehydes. Aldehyde dehydrogenases are a group of NAD(P)+ -dependent enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of aldehydes, such as those derived from catecholamines, to their corresponding carboxylic acids. To date, 19 aldehyde dehydrogenase genes have been identified in the human genome. Mutations in these genes and subsequent inborn errors in aldehyde metabolism are the molecular basis of several diseases, including Sjögren-Larsson syndrome, type II hyperprolinemia, gamma-hydroxybutyric aciduria, and pyridoxine-dependent seizures, most of which are characterized by neurological abnormalities. Several pharmaceutical agents and environmental toxins are also known to disrupt or inhibit aldehyde dehydrogenase function. It is, therefore, possible to speculate that reduced detoxification of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde from impaired or deficient aldehyde dehydrogenase function may be a contributing factor in the suggested neurotoxicity of these compounds. This article presents a comprehensive review of what is currently known of both the neurotoxicity and respective metabolism pathways of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde with an emphasis on the role that aldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes play in the detoxification of these two aldehydes.

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