Neuromelanin in parkinsonian disorders: an update

Antonio Martin-Bastida, Sara Pietracupa, Paola Piccini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neuromelanin (NM) is a dark pigment that accumulates linearly with aging in substantia nigra (SN) and locus coeruleus (LC). The dual protective and toxic role of NM has been hypothesized according to its intraneuronal or extraneuronal deposition. The melanized dopaminergic neurons in SN and LC seem to have special vulnerability to neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). The paramagnetic properties of NM due to its association to metals like iron induce T1 prolongation; hence the measurement of SN-sensitive contrast could be a useful diagnostic biomarker in neurodegenerative disease like PD and other atypical parkinsonisms. This paper will review NM histopathology and neurochemistry studies in health and diseases and the role of imaging targeting NM load in parkinsonian disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1123
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2017


  • biomarker
  • MRI
  • neurodegeneration
  • neuromelanin
  • neuronal vulnerability
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuromelanin in parkinsonian disorders: an update'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this