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Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 (ALDH1A1) is a member of a superfamily of detoxification enzymes found in various tissues that participate in the oxidation of both aliphatic and aromatic aldehydes. In the brain, ALDH1A1 participates in the metabolism of catecholamines including dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine, but is uniquely expressed in a subset of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons in the ventral mesencephalon where it converts 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde, a potentially toxic aldehyde, to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, a non toxic metabolite. Therefore, loss of ALDH1A1 expression could be predicted to alter DA metabolism and potentially increase neurotoxicity in ventral mesencephalic DA neurons. Recent reports of reduced levels of expression of both Aldh1a1 mRNA and protein in the substantia nigra (SN) of Parkinson's disease patients suggest possible involvement of ALDH1A1 in this progressive neurodegenerative disease. The present study used an Aldh1a1 null mouse to assess the influence of ALDH1A1 on the function and maintenance of the DAergic system. Results indicate that the absence of Aldh1a1 did not negatively affect growth and development of SN DA neurons nor alter protein expression levels of tyrosine hydroxylase, the DA transporter or vesicular monoamine transporter 2. However, absence of Aldh1a1 significantly increased basal extracellular DA levels, decreased KCl and amphetamine stimulated DA release and decreased DA re-uptake and resulted in more tyrosine hydroxylase expressing neurons in the SN than in wildtype animals. These data suggest that in young adult animals with deletion of the Aldh1a1 gene there is altered DA metabolism and dysfunction of the DA transporter and DA release mechanisms. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


David W Anderson, Rebecca C Schray, Gregg Duester, Jay S Schneider. Functional significance of aldehyde dehydrogenase ALDH1A1 to the nigrostriatal dopamine system. Brain research. 2011 Aug 23;1408:81-7

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PMID: 21784415

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