Neurotoxicity Research

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 77–81 | Cite as

The biochemical basis of Parkinson's disease: The role of catecholamineo-quinones: A review-discussion

  • John Smythies
  • Angela De Iuliis
  • Lucia Zanatta
  • Lauro Galzigna


This paper reviews the possible role of catecholamineo-quinones (OQs) in the genesis of Parkinson's disease (PD). This disease is characterized by damage caused to the pigmented catecholaminergic cells in various areas of the brain. The pigment involved is neuromelanin that is the end product of catecholamine oxidation by theo-quinone route. Evidence is presented regarding the overproduction in PD of these catecholamine OQs that damage the electron chain in the mitochondria leading to cell death. The roles of glutathione S-transferase and reactive oxygen species in this are also surveyed. A review of all known biochemical properties of theseo-quinones is included. The hypothesis is put forward that an important factor in the genesis of PD may be the overload by environmental toxins of enzymes such as glutathioneS-transferase that also detoxify catecholamine OQs.


Catecholamineo-quinones Parkinson's disease Neuromelanin Glutathione Reactive oxygen species 





Acetylcholine esterase


Adenosine triphosphate










Glutathione peroxidase


Oxidized glutathione




Locus coeruleus


Mitochondrial transition pore




Parkinson's disease


Prostaglandin H


Nicotine adenine dinucleotide


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase


Substantia nigra pars compacta


Tumor necrosis factor


Ventral tegmental area


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Copyright information

© Taylor & Francis Ltd 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Smythies
    • 1
    • 3
  • Angela De Iuliis
    • 2
  • Lucia Zanatta
    • 2
  • Lauro Galzigna
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Brain and Cognition, Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostics, Medical SchoolUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  3. 3.Department of NeuropsychiatryInstitute of NeurologyLondonUK

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