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J Mol Neurosci. 2004;24(3):401-16.

Iron and alpha-synuclein in the substantia nigra of MPTP-treated mice: effect of neuroprotective drugs R-apomorphine and green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate.

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Eve Topf and USA National Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence for Neurodegenerative Diseases Research and Department of Pharmacology and Rappaport Family Research Institute, Technion-Faculty of Medicine, Haifa, 31096, Israel.


One of the prominent pathological features of Parkinson's disease (PD) is the abnormal accumulation of iron in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc), in the reactive microglia, and in association with neuromelanin, within the melanin-containing dopamine (DA) neurons. Lewy body, the morphological hallmark of PD, is composed of lipids, redox-active iron, and aggregated alpha-synuclein, concentrating in its peripheral halo and ubiquitinated, hyperphosphorylated, neurofilament proteins. The capacity of free iron to enhance and promote the generation of toxic reactive oxygen radicals has been discussed numerous times. Recent observations, that iron induces aggregation of inert alpha-synuclein to toxic aggregates, have reinforced the critical role of iron in oxidative stress-induced pathogenesis of DA neuron degeneration and protein degradation via ubiquitination. N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)- and 6-hydroxydopamine-induced neurodegeneration in rodents and nonhuman primates is associated with increased presence of iron and alpha-synuclein in the SNpc. The accumulation of iron in MPTP-induced neurodegeneration has been linked to nitric oxide-dependent mechanism, resulting in degradation of prominent iron regulatory proteins by ubiquitination. Radical scavengers such as R-apomorphine and green tea catechin polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, as well as the recently developed brain-permeable VK-28 series derivative iron chelators, which are neuroprotective against these neurotoxins in mice and rats, prevent the accumulation of iron and alpha-synuclein in SNpc. This study supports the notion that a combination of iron chelation and antioxidant therapy, as emphasized on several occasions, might be a significant approach to neuroprotection in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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