Ascorbic acid protects against levodopa-induced neurotoxicity on a catecholamine-rich human neuroblastoma cell line



Levodopa, at concentrations of 0.25 × 10−4M or larger, is toxic for the human neuroblastoma cell NB69. Toxicity is associated with high levels of quinones, increased activity of complex II-III, and lack of changes of complex I of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Deprenyl, which does not alter the production of quinones, has a partial protective effect. Tocopherol, 23 or 115 × 10−6M, lacks significant preventive effect on levodopa toxicity, but ascorbic acid, 10−3M, prevents levodopa toxicity and quinone formation. Deprenyl, 10−4M, provides additional protection in cultures treated with levodopa and ascorbic acid. Our results indicate that ascorbic acid and deprenyl prevent levodopa neurotoxicity by unrelated mechanisms. Both compounds should be considered as complementary drugs to test for slowing the progression of Parkinson's disease.