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Am J Neurodegener Dis. 2012;1(3):226-44. Epub 2012 Nov 18.

Brain angiotensin and dopaminergic degeneration: relevance to Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuroanatomy and Experimental Neurology, Department of Morphological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The pathogenic mechanism of Parkinson's disease (PD) appears to be multifactorial. However, oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, including activation of NADPH-dependent oxidases, play a major role in the progression of dopaminergic cell death. The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) was described as a circulating humoral system that regulates blood pressure and water homeostasis. However, there exist local RAS in many tissues, and locally formed angiotensin activates NADPH-dependent oxidases, which are a major source of superoxide and are upregulated in major aging-related diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Furthermore, an intracellular or intracrine RAS, with still unknown functions, has been identified in several cell types. The brain has an independent local RAS, which has been involved in several brain disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases. It is particularly interesting for PD the important interaction observed between angiotensin and dopamine, which counterregulate each other in renal cells and also in the striatum and substantia nigra. In recent studies, we have observed both a local and an intracellular RAS in the rodent, monkey and human substantia nigra, and that dopamine depletion induced RAS upregulation possibly as a compensatory mechanism. However, RAS hyperactivation also exacerbated oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, which contributed to progression of dopaminergic degeneration. In addition, we observed increased RAS activity in the nigra of animals with higher vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons to degeneration, such as aged males, menopausal females and rats subjected to chronic brain hypoperfusion. RAS activity and dopaminergic vulnerability were significantly reduced by treatment with angiotensin type I receptor antagonists. Manipulation of the brain RAS may constitute an effective neuroprotective strategy against dopaminergic degeneration in PD.


Aging; Parkinson; angiotensin; degenerative disease; dopamine; menopause; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation; oxidative stress; renin-angiotensin system

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