, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 886-901

Dopamine Selectively Sensitizes Dopaminergic Neurons to Rotenone-Induced Apoptosis

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Abstract

Among various types of neurons affected in Parkinson’s disease, dopamine (DA) neurons of the substantia nigra undergo the most pronounced degeneration. Products of DA oxidation and consequent cellular damage have been hypothesized to contribute to neuronal death. To examine whether elevated intracellular DA will selectively predispose the dopaminergic subpopulation of nigral neurons to damage by an oxidative insult, we first cultured rat primary mesencephalic cells in the presence of rotenone to elevate reactive oxygen species. Although MAP2+ neurons were more sensitive to rotenone-induced toxicity than type 1 astrocytes, rotenone affected equally both DA (TH+) neurons and MAP2+ neurons. In contrast, when intracellular DA concentration was elevated, DA neurons became selectively sensitized to rotenone. Raising intracellular DA levels in primary DA neurons resulted in dopaminergic neuron death in the presence of subtoxic concentrations of rotenone. Furthermore, mitochondrial superoxide dismutase mimetic, manganese (III) meso-tetrakis (4-benzoic acid) porphyrin, blocked activation of caspase-3, and consequent cell death. Our results demonstrate that an inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I and increased cytosolic DA may cooperatively lead to conditions of elevated oxidative stress and thereby promote selective demise of dopaminergic neurons.