Specific binding of 3H-MPTP to brain homogenates is displaced predominantly by MAO-A inhibitor clorgyline in rat, and by MAO-B inhibitor deprenyl in monkey. A covalently bound metabolite is formed by MAO-B in vitro from MPTP, through a reaction almost completely inhibited by physiological concentrations of glutathione and significantly reduced by other sulfhydryl containing compounds. The difference in binding site pharmacological properties may account for the relative resistance of rat to the neurotoxic effect produced by MPTP in primates. The glutathione-prevented metabolic conversion to a reactive intermediate may be important for the mechanism of MPTP neurotoxicity and relevant to idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
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