An investigation into the neuroprotective and neurotoxic properties of levodopa, dopamine and selegiline

Scheepers, M. W. (2008) An investigation into the neuroprotective and neurotoxic properties of levodopa, dopamine and selegiline. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a profound loss of dopaminergic neurons from the substantia nigra (SN). Among the many pathogenic mechanisms thought to be responsible for the demise of these cells, dopamine (DA)-dependent oxidative stress and oxidative damage has taken center stage due to extensive experimental evidence showing that DA-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidized DA metabolites are toxic to SN neurons. Despite its being the most efficacious drug for symptom reversal in PD, there is concern that levodopa (LD) may contribute to the neuronal degeneration and progression of PD by enhancing DA concentrations and turnover in surviving dopaminergic neurons. The present study investigates the potential neurotoxic and neuroprotective effects of DA in vitro. These effects are compared to the toxicity and neuroprotective effects observed in the rat striatum after the administration of LD and selegiline (SEL), both of which increase striatal DA levels. The effects of exogenous LD and/or SEL administration on both the oxidative stress caused by increased striatal iron (II) levels and its consequences have also been investigated. 6-Hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) is a potent neurotoxin used to mimic dopaminergic degeneration in animal models of PD. The formation of 6-OHDA in vivo could destroy central dopaminergic nerve terminals and enhance the progression of PD. Inorganic studies using high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection (HPLC-ECD) show that hydroxyl radicals can react with DA to form 6-OHDA in vitro. SEL results in a significant decrease in the formation of 6-OHDA in vitro, probably as a result of its antioxidant properties. However, the exogenous administration of LD, with or without SEL, either does not lead to the formation of striatal 6-OHDA in vivo or produces concentrations below the detection limit of the assay. This is despite the fact that striatal DA levels in these rats are significantly elevated (two-fold) compared to the control group. The auto-oxidation and monoamine oxidase (MAO)-mediated metabolism of DA causes an increase in the production of superoxide anions in whole rat brain homogenate in vitro. In addition to this, DA is able to enhance the production of hydroxyl radicals by Fenton chemistry (Fe(III)-EDTA/H2O2) in a cell free environment. Treatment with systemic LD elevates the production of striatal superoxide anions, but does not lead to a detectable increase in striatal hydroxyl radical production in vivo. The co-adminstration of SEL with LD is able to prevent the LD induced rise in striatal superoxide levels. It has been found that the presence of DA or 6-OHDA is able to reduce lipid peroxidation in whole rat brain homogenate induced by Fe(II)-EDTA/H2O2 and ascorbate (Fenton system). However, DA and 6-OHDA increase protein oxidation in rat brain homogenate, which is further increased in the presence of the Fenton system. In addition to this, the incubation of rat brain homogenate with DA or 6-OHDA is also accompanied by a significant reduction in the total GSH content of the homogenate. The exogenous administration of LD and/or SEL was found to have no detrimental effects on striatal lipids, proteins or total GSH levels. Systemic LD administration actually had a neuroprotective effect in the striatum by inhibiting iron (II) induced lipid peroxidation. Inorganic studies, including electrochemistry and the ferrozine assay show that DA and 6-OHDA are able to release iron from ferritin, as iron (II), and that DA can bind iron (III), a fact that may easily impede the availability of this metal ion for participation in the Fenton reaction. The binding of iron (III) by DA appears to discard the involvement of the Fenton reaction in the increased production of hydroxyl radicals induced by the addition of DA to mixtures containing Fe(II)-EDTA and hydrogen peroxide. 6-OHDA did not form a metal-ligand complex with iron (II) or iron (III). In addition to the antioxidant activity and MAO-B inhibitory activity of SEL, the iron binding studies show that SEL has weak iron (II) chelating activity and that it can also form complexes with iron (III). This may therefore be another mechanism involved in the neuroprotective action of SEL. The results of the pineal indole metabolism study show that the systemic administration of SEL increases the production of N-acetylserotonin (NAS) by the pineal gland. NAS has been demonstrated to be a potent antioxidant in the brain and protects against 6-OHDA induced toxicity. The results of this study show that DA displays antioxidant properties in relation to lipid eroxidation and exhibits pro-oxidant properties by causing an increase in the production of hydroxyl radicals and superoxide anions, as well as protein oxidation and a loss of total GSH content. Despite the toxic effects of DA in vitro, the treatment of rats with exogenous LD does not cause oxidative stress or oxidative damage. The results also show that LD and SEL have some neuroprotective properties which make these agents useful in the treatment of PD.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Levodopa; dopomine; selegiline; 6-hydroxydopomine; neuroprotection
Subjects:R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Pharmacy
Supervisors:Daya, S. (Prof.)
ID Code:1714
Deposited By: Nicolene Mvinjelwa
Deposited On:22 Jun 2010 11:58
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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