The mechanism by which dopaminergic neurons are selectively lost in Parkinson disease (PD) is unknown. Here we show that accumulation of α-synuclein in cultured human dopaminergic neurons results in apoptosis that requires endogenous dopamine production and is mediated by reactive oxygen species. In contrast, α-synuclein is not toxic in non-dopaminergic human cortical neurons, but rather exhibits neuroprotective activity. Dopamine-dependent neurotoxicity is mediated by 54-83-kD soluble protein complexes that contain α-synuclein and 14-3-3 protein, which are elevated selectively in the substantia nigra in PD. Thus, accumulation of soluble α-synuclein protein complexes can render endogenous dopamine toxic, suggesting a potential mechanism for the selectivity of neuronal loss in PD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)