Specific A10 dopaminergic nuclei in the midbrain degenerate in Parkinson's disease

  • McRitchie D
  • Cartwright H
  • Halliday G
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Using unbiased quantitative techniques, we evaluated the effect of Parkinson's disease on the regional size and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-producing neurons and all neurons in the midbrain A8 and A10 dopaminergic cell groups located adjacent to the substantia nigra. Seven patients with Lewy body Parkinson's disease were evaluated and compared with five controls. Four of the patients with Parkinson's disease had additional neuropathology, and the effect of concomitant pathology on A10 populations was also determined. Degeneration was not observed in the A8 regions of any patient, and only certain A10 nuclei were affected by the disease. The parabrachial pigmented nucleus situated dorsal to the substantial nigra, and the parapeduncular nucleus located rostromedially were significantly reduced by 40-50% in patients with Parkinson's disease. Few differences were found between patients with or without additional pathology, suggesting a similar pathogenic mechanism to that observed in the substantia nigra of these patients. However, patients with additional pathology also had serotonergic cell loss in the caudal linear nucleus. There was a reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity but no overt neurodegeneration in other A10 regions, suggesting the disease may also influence the production of dopamine in some surviving neurons.

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  • D. A. McRitchie

  • H. R. Cartwright

  • G. M. Halliday

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