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Mov Disord. 2000 Sep;15(5):977-81.

Isolation and 13C-NMR characterization of an insoluble proteinaceous fraction from substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Chemistry IFM, University of Torino, Italy.


Neuromelanin is a dark brown pigment suspected of being involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. This pigment can be isolated from normal human substantia nigra by a procedure that includes an extensive proteolytic treatment. In this study we used such a procedure to extract the neuromelanin pigment from a pool of substantia nigra from patients affected by Parkinson's disease. 13C Cross polarization magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy were used to characterize the solid residue obtained from the extraction procedure. We found that the pigment extracted from the substantia nigra of parkinsonian patients was mainly composed of highly cross-linked, protease-resistant, lipo-proteic material, whereas the neuromelanin macromolecule appears to be only a minor component of this extract. A synthetic model of melanoprotein has been prepared by enzymatic oxidation of dopamine in the presence of albumin. Once it has undergone the same proteolytic treatment, this model system yields a 13C-NMR spectrum which is similar to that observed for the parkinsonian midbrain extract. These results are consistent with the view that oxidative stress has a relevant role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.

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