Methylphenyltetrahydropyridine (MPTP) selectively destroys neuronal cell bodies in the melanin-containing substantia nigra of humans and other primates. We show that methylphenylpyridine (MPP+), an active metabolite of MPTP which is accumulated intraneuronally by the catecholamine uptake system, binds with high affinity to melanin and neuromelanin. MPP+ bound intracellularly to neuromelanin may be released gradually, resulting in subsequent damage to the neurons of the substantia nigra.
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The corresponding record at NLM can be accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3080808