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Ital J Neurol Sci. 1990 Aug;11(4):367-72.

The hypothalamus in MPTP-induced parkinsonism.

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Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York.


1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) has been shown to produce a parkinsonian syndrome in humans and other primates. Recent studies have demonstrated that in humans the hypothalamus has the highest binding density for (3H) MPTP, which corresponds to monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B). There is evidence that the conversion of MPTP to the toxic compound MPP+ takes place in the hypothalamus; subsequently, MPP+ is transported to the striatal system, where destruction of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons occurs. Thus, the hypothalamus appears to be a primary target organ of MPTP toxicity. This assumption is supported by the observation that monkeys exposed to MPTP exhibit extensive pathological lesions in the hypothalamus which are manifested clinically by the development of life-threatening anorexia requiring forced feeding to overcome. We discuss the clinical implications of MPTP-induced hypothalamic damage to the pathophysiology of MPTP-induced parkinsonism and to Parkinson disease. It is suggested that consideration of hypothalamic involvement in MPTP-induced parkinsonism may provide a broader understanding of the pathophysiology of parkinsonism and may, in addition, account for the preliminary observations that MAO-B inhibitors retard the progression of Parkinson disease and possibly prolong life expectancy.

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