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J Neurochem. 1993 Oct;61(4):1470-8.

Toxic and protective effects of L-dopa on mesencephalic cell cultures.

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Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029.


The autoxidation of L-DOPA or dopamine (DA) and the metabolism of DA by monoamine oxidase generate a spectrum of toxic species, namely, hydrogen peroxide, oxy radicals, semiquinones, and quinones. When primary dissociated cultures of rat mesencephalon were incubated with L-DOPA (200 microM) for 48 h, the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons (DA neurons) was reduced to 69.7% of control values, accompanied by a decrease in [3H]DA uptake to 42.3% of control values; the remaining DA neurons exhibited reduced neurite length and overall deterioration. Lack of simultaneous change in the number of neurons stained with neuron-specific enolase indicated that toxicity was relatively specific for DA neurons. At the same time, the level of GSH, a major cellular antioxidant, rose to 125.2% of control values. Thus, exposure of mesencephalic cultures to L-DOPA results in both damaging and antioxidant actions. Ascorbate (200 microM), an antioxidant, prevented the rise in GSH. The effect of ascorbate on GSH points to an oxidative signal to initiate the rise in GSH content. On the other hand, neither inhibition of monoamine oxidase with pargyline nor addition of superoxide dismutase or catalase to the culture medium prevented the rise in GSH level or the loss in [3H]DA uptake. The latter results tend to exclude the products of monoamine oxidase activity or the presence of hydrogen peroxide or superoxide in the medium as responsible agents for the rise in GSH or neuronal toxicity. In cultures treated with L-buthionine sulfoximine (L-BSO), an inhibitor of GSH synthesis, L-DOPA prevented cell death by L-BSO.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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