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On the Function of Neuromelanin

John Smythies
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 263, No. 1369 (Apr. 22, 1996), pp. 487-489
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/50733
Page Count: 3
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On the Function of Neuromelanin
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Abstract

The hypothesis is presented, based on the chemical structure of neuromelanin, that one of its functions in the catecholamine neurons in the brain is to protect the cell against toxic quinones (such as dopaminochrome and noradrenochrome, or their dihydroxy isomers) produced from the catecholamines dopamine and noradrenaline (and possibly adrenaline) during the course of prostaglandin synthesis by the enzyme prostaglandin H synthetase, or possibly by spontaneous oxidation. One aminochrome-adrenochrome-has been shown to be neurotoxic and to have psychotomimetic properties in humans. Depending on the site of production these compounds may be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease or schizophrenia.

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