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Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;64(5-6):1037-48.

Glutathione, iron and Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Buck Institute For Age Research, 8001 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, CA 94945, USA.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease involving neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra (SN), a part of the midbrain. Oxidative stress has been implicated to play a major role in the neuronal cell death associated with PD. Importantly, there is a drastic depletion in cytoplasmic levels of the thiol tripeptide glutathione within the SN of PD patients. Glutathione (GSH) exhibits several functions in the brain chiefly acting as an antioxidant and a redox regulator. GSH depletion has been shown to affect mitochondrial function probably via selective inhibition of mitochondrial complex I activity. An important biochemical feature of neurodegeneration during PD is the presence of abnormal protein aggregates present as intracytoplasmic inclusions called Lewy bodies. Oxidative damage via GSH depletion might also accelerate the build-up of defective proteins leading to cell death of SN dopaminergic neurons by impairing the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway of protein degradation. Replenishment of normal glutathione levels within the brain may hold an important key to therapeutics for PD. Several reports have suggested that iron accumulation in the SN patients might also contribute to oxidative stress during PD.

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