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6-Hydroxydopamine, or 6-OHDA, is a neurotoxin used by neurobiologists to selectively kill dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons. 6-OHDA enters the neurons via the dopamine and noradrenaline (or norepinephrine) reuptake transporters. 6-OHDA is often used in conjunction with a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (such as desipramine) to selectively kill dopaminergic neurons only. The reverse is also possible, however it is rarely done in research.

The main use for 6-OHDA in scientific research is to induce Parkinsonism in laboratory animals such as mice, rats and monkeys, in order to develop and test new medicines for treating Parkinson's disease in humans. In order to induce this condition in animals, around 90% of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain must be destroyed, and this is achieved either with 6-OHDA or MPTP. Both these agents likely destroy neurons by generating active oxygen species such as superoxide radical. 6-OHDA toxicity in neonatal rodents is also used as an animal model for the Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. [cite journal |author=Breese GR, Knapp DJ, Criswell HE, Moy SS, Papadeas ST, Blake BL |title=The neonate-6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rat: a model for clinical neuroscience and neurobiological principles |journal=Brain Res. Brain Res. Rev. |volume=48 |issue=1 |pages=57–73 |year=2005 |pmid=15708628 |doi=10.1016/j.brainresrev.2004.08.004]


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