Dopamine (DA) modulates apoptosis in neuronal and non-neuronal cells, and dopaminergic pathways contribute to neurodegenerative disease. Human lymphocytes express dopaminergic receptors and DA transporters, and synthesize endogenous catecholamines, which may modulate apoptosis in these cells. In the present study, dopaminergic modulation of apoptosis was investigated in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from healthy donors. Twenty-four-hour DA reduced at 0.1-5 × 10-6 M and enhanced at 1-5 × 10-4 M spontaneous apoptosis. DA 1 × 10 -6 M was inhibited by the D1-like receptor antagonist SCH 23390 1 × 10-6 M, but not by the D2-like receptor antagonists domperidone 1 × 10-6 M or haloperidol 1 × 10 -6 M, while the effect of DA 5 × 10-4 M was prevented by the antioxidants glutathione 5-10 mM or N-acetyl-L-cysteine 1-10 mM. Intracellular reactive oxygen species were respectively reduced and increased by 1-3 h incubation with DA 0.1-10 × 10-6 M and 1-5 × 10-4 M. Twenty-four-hour DA 1 × 10-6 M or 5 × 10-4 M had no effect on PBMC expression of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase or Bcl-2; however, DA 5 × 10-4 M decreased caspase-3 activity. In human PBMCs, DA seems to promote apoptosis through oxidative mechanisms but may also result in cell rescue from apoptotic death possibly through activation of D1-like receptors. The dual effect of DA on human PBMCs closely resembles that on striatal neurons. Lymphocytes of patients with Parkinson's disease may show reduced DA content and impaired DA transporter immunoreactivity. Human PBMCs may thus represent a simple and readily accessible model to study DA-related mechanisms relevant for neurodegenerative disease.
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