Regional distribution of tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives in rodent, human, and parkinson's disease brain

Michael DeCuypere, Yan Lu, Duane D. Miller, Mark S. LeDoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Several members of the tetrahydroisoquinoline (TIQ) family of monoamine alkaloids can be formed from dopamine or its oxidized metabolites and may be involved in the pathogenesis of monoaminergic cell death in Parkinson's disease (PD). Using enantiomeric-selective high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectroscopy, the regional concentrations of several TIQ derivatives, including salsolinols, were determined in mouse, rat, normal human, and PD brain. TIQ derivatives were detected in all regions subjected to analysis. In general, salsolinols were present at higher concentrations than TIQ and its benzyl and methyl derivatives, especially in human brain. Moreover, salsolinols were concentrated in areas with increased dopamine synthesis and turnover such as the ventral midbrain and striatum, respectively. A possible consequence of nigrostriatal dopaminergic cell death, significantly lower levels of (R)salsolinol, (S)salsolinol, N-methyl-(R)salsolinol and N-methyl-(S)salsolinol were found in the caudate nuclei of PD in comparison with normal human brain. Our data support the hypothesis of endogenous synthesis of salsolinols and provide evidence for their accumulation in catecholaminergic neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1413
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • N-methyl-salsolinol
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Salsolinol
  • Substantia nigra pars compacta
  • Tetrahydroisoquinoline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry


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