Drug treatment of Parkinson's disease. Time for phase II

B Drukarch, F L van Muiswinkel

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative syndrome for which at present no cure is available; therapy consists mainly of amelioration of the symptoms with L-Dopa and/or dopamine (DA) agonists. Development of an effective causal therapy should be focussed on preventing or at least retarding the neurodegenerative process underlying the disease. At the cellular level, PD is characterized by degeneration of neuromelanin-containing dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Neuromelanin formation is the outcome of a process generally known as DA autooxidation, a chain of oxidation reactions in which highly neurotoxic DA-quinones are produced. The level of these DA-quinones, as estimated by the occurrence of their cysteinyl conjugates, is reported to be increased in the Parkinsonian substantia nigra. Hence, stimulation of pathways implicated in the detoxication of DA-quinones in the brain may provide neuroprotection in PD. Besides their inactivation through non-enzymatic antioxidants such as ascorbic acid and glutathione, DA-quinones are efficiently inactivated enzymatically by NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO) and glutathione transferase(s), both of which are expressed in the human substantia nigra. The activity of these enzymes, which belong to the group of phase II biotransformation enzymes, can be up-regulated by a large variety of compounds. These compounds, including dithiolethiones, phenolic anti-oxidants, and isothiocyanates, have been shown to be active both in vitro and in vivo. Thus, considering the role of phase II biotransformation enzymes, in particular NQO and glutathione transferase(s), in the detoxication of DA-quinones, we propose that phase II enzyme inducers warrant evaluation on their neuroprotective potential in PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-31
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2000


  • Biotransformation
  • Dopamine
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Melanins
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Parkinson Disease
  • Substantia Nigra

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