Neuromelanin in Parkinson’s Disease: Tyrosine Hydroxylase and Tyrosinase

Toshiharu Nagatsu, Akira Nakashima, Hirohisa Watanabe, Shosuke Ito, Kazumasa Wakamatsu

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an aging-related disease and the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. The main symptoms of PD are movement disorders accompanied with deficiency of neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) in the striatum due to cell death of the nigrostriatal DA neurons. Two main histopathological hallmarks exist in PD: cytosolic inclusion bodies termed Lewy bodies that mainly consist of α-synuclein protein, the oligomers of which produced by misfolding are regarded to be neurotoxic, causing DA cell death; and black pigments termed neuromelanin (NM) that are contained in DA neurons and markedly decrease in PD. The synthesis of human NM is regarded to be similar to that of melanin in melanocytes; melanin synthesis in skin is via DOPAquinone (DQ) by tyrosinase, whereas NM synthesis in DA neurons is via DAquinone (DAQ) by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC). DA in cytoplasm is highly reactive and is assumed to be oxidized spontaneously or by an unidentified tyrosinase to DAQ and then, synthesized to NM. Intracellular NM accumulation above a specific threshold has been reported to be associated with DA neuron death and PD phenotypes. This review reports recent progress in the biosynthesis and pathophysiology of NM in PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4176
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 01-04-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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