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Review Article

Exp Neurobiol 2010; 19(2): 63-70

Published online September 30, 2010

© The Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

Neurotoxic Effects of Tetrahydroisoquinolines and Underlying Mechanisms

Young-Joon Surh1* and Hyun-Jung Kim2

1College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, 2College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 156-756, Korea

Correspondence to: *To whom correspondence should be addressed.
TEL: 82-2-880-7845, FAX: 82-2-874-9775


Tetrahydropapaveroline (THP), a neurotoxic tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid formed by condensation between dopamine and dopaldehyde, has been speculated to cause Parkinson's disease and also to contribute to alcohol dependence. Having two catechol moieties, THP may readily undergo oxidation to form an o-quinone intermediate with concomitant production of reactive oxygen species, which can cause neuronal cell death and DNA damage. This review will deal with the current knowledge of neurotoxic effects of this endogenous alkaloid and underlying biochemical mechanisms.

Keywords: tetrahydroisoquinoline, neurotoxicity, cell death, reactive oxygen species, Parkinson, alcoholism