Scientific article

Isoquinoline derivatives as endogenous neurotoxins in the aetiology of Parkinson's disease

Published inBiochemical pharmacology, vol. 56, no. 8, p. 921-933
Publication date1998

The cause of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD) remains unknown. However, isoquinoline derivatives structurally related to the selective dopaminergic toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) and its active metabolite, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinim (MPP+), have emerged as candidate endogenous neurotoxins causing nigral cell death in Parkinson's disease. Isoquinoline derivatives are widely distributed in the environment, being present in many plants and foodstuffs, and readily cross the blood-brain barrier. These compounds occur naturally in human brain where they are synthesized by non-enzymatic condensation of biogenic amines (e.g. catecholamines and phenylethylamine) with aldehydes, and are metabolized by cytochrome P450s and N-methyltransferases. In addition, isoquinoline derivatives are oxidized by monoamine oxidases to produce isoquinolinium cations with the concomitant generation of reactive oxygen species. Neutral and quaternary isoquinoline derivatives accumulate in dopaminergic nerve terminals via the dopamine re-uptake system, for which they have moderate to poor affinity as substrates. Several isoquinoline derivatives are selective and more potent inhibitors of NADH ubiquinone reductase (complex I) and alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase activity in mitochondrial fragments than MPP+, and lipophilicity appears to be important for complex I inhibition by isoquinoline derivatives. However, compared with MPP+, isoquinoline derivatives are selective but less potent inhibitors of NADH-linked respiration in intact mitochondria, and this appears to be a consequence of their rate-limiting ability to cross mitochondrial membranes. Although both active and passive processes are involved in the accumulation of isoquinoline derivatives in mitochondria, inhibition of respiration is determined by steric rather than electrostatic properties. Compared with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine or MPP+, isoquinoline derivatives show selective but relatively weak toxicity to dopamine-containing cells in culture and following systemic or intracerebral administration to experimental animals, which appears to be a consequence of poor sequestration of isoquinoline derivatives by mitochondria and by dopamine-containing neurones. In conclusion, the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-like cytotoxic characteristics of isoquinoline derivatives and the endogenous/environmental presence of these compounds make it conceivable that high concentrations of and/or prolonged exposure to isoquinoline derivatives might cause neurodegeneration and Parkinson's disease in humans.

  • Animals
  • Environmental Health
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines/adverse effects/chemistry/*metabolism
  • Mitochondria/metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Nerve Degeneration/metabolism
  • Neurotoxins/adverse effects/chemistry/*metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease/*etiology
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
MCNAUGHT, K. S. et al. Isoquinoline derivatives as endogenous neurotoxins in the aetiology of Parkinson’s disease. In: Biochemical pharmacology, 1998, vol. 56, n° 8, p. 921–933.
Main files (1)
ISSN of the journal0006-2952

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