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The Pharmacological Basis of the Therapeutic Effect of (—)-Deprenyl in Age-Related Neurological Diseases

  • J. Knoll
Chapter
Part of the Milestones in Drug Therapy book series (MDT)

Abstract

In human, striatal dopamine content and number of nigrostriatal neurons are known to decline rapidly beyond the age of 45 years [1]. According to our present knowledge, the nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons are the most rapidly aging neurons in the human brain. The dopamine content of the human caudate nucleus decreases enormously, by 13% per decade, over age 45. We know that symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) appear if the dopamine content of the caudate sinks below 30% of the normal level. Thus, the normal aging of the system is slow enough so that the appearance of parkinsonian symptoms is not evident within the average lifespan. This is true for 99.9% of the human population. In 0.1%, however, the striatal dopaminergic system deteriorates rapidly. This small percentage of the population (see Figure 1) crosses the critical threshold and manifests the classical symptoms described by James Parkinson in 1817 in his famous book “Essay on the Shaking Palsy”. Parkinson’s disease (PD) may be regarded as a premature, rapid aging (of unknown origin) of the striatal dopaminergic machinery.

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© Springer Basel AG 1993

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  • J. Knoll

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