Parkinson’s disease (PD) coincides with a dramatic loss of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra. A key player in the loss of dopaminergic neurons is oxidative stress. Dopamine (DA) metabolism itself is strongly linked to oxidative stress as its degradation generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DA oxidation can lead to endogenous neurotoxins whereas some DA derivatives show antioxidative effects. Therefore, DA metabolism is of special importance for neuronal redox-homeostasis and viability.
In this review we highlight different aspects of dopamine metabolism in the context of PD and neurodegeneration. Since most reviews focus only on single aspects of the DA system, we will give a broader overview by looking at DA biosynthesis, sequestration, degradation and oxidation chemistry at the metabolic level, as well as at the transcriptional, translational and posttranslational regulation of all enzymes involved. This is followed by a short overview of cellular models currently used in PD research. Finally, we will address the topic from a medical point of view which directly aims to encounter PD.