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Neurosci Lett. 1998 Mar 6;244(1):33-6.

Ascorbic acid stimulates DOPA synthesis and tyrosine hydroxylase gene expression in the human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH.

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Department of Hematology and Oncology, Children's Hospital, University of Tübingen, Germany.


Ascorbic acid is well known to induce noradrenaline synthesis in sympathetic nervous cells. In a series of experiments we found that incubation of the neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH with ascorbic acid (100-500 microM) for 2 h results in a significantly enhanced synthesis of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and dopamine. Additionally, cDNA-polymerase chain reaction (cDNA-PCR) analysis of relative mRNA levels corresponding to the enzymes involved in catecholamine synthesis revealed a 3-fold increase of tyrosine hydroxylase gene expression after 5 days of incubation with ascorbic acid (200 microM), whereas expression of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase was found to be unaltered. In summary the data give evidence that ascorbic acid leads to enhanced DOPA production in SK-N-SH cells by two different mechanisms: at the metabolic level after short-term incubation and by increasing the tyrosine hydroxylase gene expression after long-term incubation. Based on these data we suppose that enhancement of DOPA synthesis by ascorbic acid may be useful in the treatment of early Parkinson's disease.

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