Dopamine-degrading activity of monoamine oxidase (MAO) was detected in the rat using a new histochemical method, with dopamine as the substrate. Our new method, designed to minimise the non-enzymatic oxidation of dopamine, was applied in combination with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and serotonin immunohistochemistry. We showed that the distribution pattern of MAO neurons was similar to that of TH-immunoreactive neurons (i.e. noradrenergic neurons) in the locus coeruleus (LC) and to that of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR). Since LC neurons form dopamine during noradrenaline biosynthesis, and DR neurons produce dopamine from exogenously administered L-dopa, our results indicate that dopamine produced in LC and DR neurons may be degraded, at least in part, by MAO.
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