Research Article

Dopamine oxidation mediates mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1255-1261
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9080

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Human-derived neurons provide the answers

Pathways involved in energy metabolism and removal of cellular debris by lysosomes play an important role in protecting our brain from degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Burbulla et al. identified a toxic cascade of mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction in human neurons derived from patients with Parkinson's. The dysfunction was mediated by accumulation of oxidized dopamine and α-synuclein, but it was not found in Parkinson's mouse models, owing to species-specific differences in dopamine metabolism. Inherent species-specific differences between human and mouse neurons emphasize the value of studying human neurons to identify relevant targets for treatment of Parkinson's disease and related synucleinopathies.

Science, this issue p. 1255

Abstract

Mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction have been implicated in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but how these pathways are linked in human neurons remains unclear. Here we studied dopaminergic neurons derived from patients with idiopathic and familial PD. We identified a time-dependent pathological cascade beginning with mitochondrial oxidant stress leading to oxidized dopamine accumulation and ultimately resulting in reduced glucocerebrosidase enzymatic activity, lysosomal dysfunction, and α-synuclein accumulation. This toxic cascade was observed in human, but not in mouse, PD neurons at least in part because of species-specific differences in dopamine metabolism. Increasing dopamine synthesis or α-synuclein amounts in mouse midbrain neurons recapitulated pathological phenotypes observed in human neurons. Thus, dopamine oxidation represents an important link between mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction in PD pathogenesis.

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