Redox sensitivity of tyrosine Hydroxylase activity and expression in dopaminergic dysfunction

Giuseppe Di Giovanni, Mauro Pessia, Roberto Di Maio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidant molecules generated during neuronal metabolism appear to play a significant role in the processes of aging and neurodegeneration. Increasing experimental evidence suggests the noteworthy relevance of the intracellular reduction-oxidation (redox) balance for the dopaminergic (DA-ergic) neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta. These cells possess a distinct physiology intrinsically associated with elevated reactive oxygen species production, conferring on them a high vulnerability to free radical damage, one of the major causes of selective DA-ergic neuron dysfunction and degeneration related to neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Tyrosine hydroxylase (tyrosine 3-monooxygenase; E.C.; TH) activity represents the rate-limiting biochemical event in DA synthesis. TH activity, metabolism and expression are finely tuned by several regulatory systems in order to maintain a crucial physiological condition in which DA synthesis is closely coupled to its secretion. Alterations of these regulatory systems of TH functions have indeed been thought to be key events in the DA-ergic degeneration. TH has seven cysteine residues presenting thiols. Depending on the oxido-reductive (redox) status of the cellular environment, thiols exist either in the reduced form of free thiols or oxidized to disulfides. The formation of disulfides in proteins exerts critical regulatory functions both in physiological and in pathological conditions when oxidative stress is sustained. Several reports have recently shown that redox state changes of thiol residues, as consequence of an oxidative injury, can directly or indirectly affect the TH activity, metabolism and expression. The major focus of this review, therefore, is to report recent evidence on the redox modulation of TH activity and expression, and to provide an overview of a cellular phenomenon that might represent a target for new therapeutic strategies against the DA-ergic neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalCNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • Neurodegenaration
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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