Epidemiological studies have found an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) with environmental factors such as exposure to substances derived from industrial processes, use of agrochemicals, or living in a rural environment. The hypothesis that certain environmental toxins could be the source of the EP is supported by the discovery that chemicals such as herbicides paraquat, diquat, and the fungicide maneb are selectively toxic in nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Also, one of the insecticides produced by plants, such as rotenone, and by-product of the synthesis of synthetic heroin MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) can be reproduced in animal models where neurochemicals, histopathological, and clinical characteristic of PD can be found. Interestingly, there are similarities in the chemical structure of paraquat and MPTP. Recent evidence exhibited that inflammation and oxidative stress play an essential role in the development of PD. So, in our laboratory we found that in an animal model melatonin decreases the products of lipid oxidation, nitric oxide metabolites, and the activity of cyclooxygenase 2, which are induced by an intraperitoneal injection of MPTP. This suggests that the neuroprotective effects of melatonin are partially attributed to its antioxidant scavenging and anti-inflammatory action.
Part of the book: Free Radicals and Diseases