Dopamine and the Dopamine Oxidation Product 5,6-Dihydroxylindole Promote Distinct On-Pathway and Off-Pathway Aggregation of α-Synuclein in a pH-Dependent Manner Academic Article uri icon


  • The deposition of alpha-synuclein (alpha-syn) aggregates in dopaminergic neurons is a key feature of Parkinson's disease. While dopamine (DA) can modulate alpha-syn aggregation, it is unclear which other factors can regulate the actions of DA on alpha-syn. In this study, we investigated the effect of solution conditions (buffer, salt and pH) on the oligomerization of alpha-syn by DA. We show that alpha-syn oligomerization is dependent on the oxidation of DA into reactive intermediates. Under acidic pH conditions, DA is stable, and DA-mediated oligomerization of alpha-syn is inhibited. From pH 7.0 to pH 11.0, DA is unstable and undergoes redox reactions, promoting the formation of SDS-resistant soluble oligomers of alpha-syn. We show that the reactive intermediate 5,6-dihydroxylindole mediates the formation of alpha-syn soluble oligomers under physiological conditions (pH 7.4). In contrast, under acidic conditions (pH 4.0), 5,6-dihydroxylindole promotes the formation of SDS-resistant insoluble oligomers that further associate to form sheet-like fibrils with beta-sheet structure that do not bind the dye thioflavin T. These results suggest that distinct reactive intermediates of DA, and not DA itself, interact with alpha-syn to generate the alpha-syn aggregates implicated in Parkinson's disease.


  • Pham, Chi LL
  • Leong, Su Ling
  • Ali, Feda E
  • Kenche, Vijaya B
  • Hill, Andrew F
  • Gras, Sally L
  • Barnham, Kevin J
  • Cappai, Roberto

publication date

  • April 2009