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Neurology. 1992 Aug;42(8):1573-7.

Striatal monoamine neurotransmitters and metabolites in dominantly inherited olivopontocerebellar atrophy.

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  • 1Human Neurochemical Pathology Lab, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto, ON, Canada.


We measured the levels of the monoamine neurotransmitters and metabolites in striatum of 14 patients with end-stage dominantly inherited olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA). On average, dopamine levels were reduced in putamen (-53%), caudate (-35%), and nucleus accumbens (-31%). However, individual patient values showed a wide variation, indicating that mild to moderate striatal dopamine loss is a common but not constant feature of OPCA. Seven patients had marked putamen dopamine loss (-62% to -81%) but without evidence of correspondingly severe substantia nigra cell damage; this suggests the possibility of a "dying-back" phenomenon in which nerve terminal loss precedes cell body degeneration. Severe substantia nigra cell loss with almost total (-95% to -99%) putamen and caudate dopamine depletion was present in two patients; however, none of the 14 patients had had a clinical diagnosis of parkinsonism or was receiving antiparkinsonian medication. Mean striatal serotonin levels were normal, whereas concentrations of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were elevated by 47% to 63%; this suggests increased activity of raphe dorsalis serotonin neurons innervating the striatum, which might aggravate the functional consequences of the dopamine deficit.

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