Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology

Endogenous dopamine is involved in the herbicide paraquat-induced dopaminergic cell death.

PMID 24743698


The herbicide paraquat is an environmental factor that may be involved in the etiology of Parkinson's disease (PD). Systemic exposure of mice to paraquat causes a selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, although paraquat is not selectively incorporated in dopaminergic neurons. Here, we report a contribution of endogenous dopamine to paraquat-induced dopaminergic cell death. Exposure of PC12 cells to paraquat (50μM) caused delayed toxicity from 36 h onward. A decline in intracellular dopamine content achieved by inhibiting tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), an enzyme for dopamine synthesis, conferred resistance to paraquat toxicity on dopaminergic cells. Paraquat increased the levels of cytosolic and vesicular dopamine, accompanied by transiently increased TH activity. Quinone derived from cytosolic dopamine conjugates with cysteine residues in functional proteins to form quinoproteins. Formation of quinoprotein was transiently increased early during exposure to paraquat. Furthermore, pretreatment with ascorbic acid, which suppressed the elevations of intracellular dopamine and quinoprotein, almost completely prevented paraquat toxicity. These results suggest that the elevation of cytosolic dopamine induced by paraquat participates in the vulnerability of dopaminergic cells to delayed toxicity through the formation of quinoproteins.