Neuromelanin-containing, catecholaminergic neurons in the human brain: ontogenetic aspects, development and aging

Neuromelanin-containing, catecholaminergic neurons in the human brain: ontogenetic aspects, development and aging
Dimitar E. Itzev, WladimirA. Ovtscharoff, Enrico Marani, andKamen G. Usunoff (Bulgaria, The Netherlands)

The present review compiles data on the development and aging ofneuromelanin (NM) -containing neurons in the central nervous system. Neuromelanin is brownish-to-black pigment that accumulates in the catecholaminergic (noradrenergic and dopaminergic) neurons and is a reliable natural marker that delineates the A1-A14 catecholaminergic groups of Dahlstrom and Fuxe in the human brain. The pigmentation of noradrenergic locus ceruleus neurons starts earlier than that of dopaminergic substantia nigra, but also a considerable individual variability is present. The pigmentation is well advanced in adolescence. The data at what age the maximal pigmentation is reached are controversial, as are the data on the cell loss in the NM-containing neuronal populations by normal aging. Thus, the participation ofNM in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease remains enigmatic.
Biomed Rev 2002; 13: 39-47.
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Received 22 August 2002 and accepted 30 November 2002.

Correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Dimitar E. Itzev, Institute of Physiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. Georgi Bonchev Str. Block 23, BG-1113 Sofia, Bulgaria. Tel.: 359(2)979 3215, Fax: 359(2)71 91 09
E-mail: itzev@bio.bas.bg

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