Dopamine transporter messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was assessed by in situ hybridization over individual pigmented neurons from the substantia nigra pars compacta in midbrain sections from 7 parkinsonian and 7 age- matched, neurologically normal patients. In the normal control brains, high levels of expression of dopamine transporter mRNA were noted over pigmented neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta; neurons in the adjacent nucleus paranigralis of the ventral tegmental area displayed less hybridization. Nigra compacta neurons surviving in brains of patients with Parkinson's disease displayed only 57% of the dopamine transporter mRNA hybridization intensity displayed by nigral neurons in normal control brains. The disease-related decrease in the apparent level of dopamine transporter mRNA expression in remaining neurons could reflect neuronal dysfunction. Conceivably, it might also reflect differential vulnerability of those neurons that initially expressed higher levels of this transporter to the insult of parkinsonism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology