Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized pathologically by the loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra (SN). Whether cell types beyond DA neurons in the SN show vulnerability in PD remains unclear. Through transcriptomic profiling of 315,867 high-quality single nuclei in the SN from individuals with and without PD, we identified cell clusters representing various neuron types, glia, endothelial cells, pericytes, fibroblasts, and T cells and investigated cell type–dependent alterations in gene expression in PD. Notably, a unique neuron cluster marked by the expression of RIT2, a PD risk gene, also displayed vulnerability in PD. We validated RIT2-enriched neurons in midbrain organoids and the mouse SN. Our results demonstrated distinct transcriptomic signatures of the RIT2-enriched neurons in the human SN and implicated reduced RIT2 expression in the pathogenesis of PD. Our study sheds light on the diversity of cell types, including DA neurons, in the SN and the complexity of molecular and cellular changes associated with PD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadi8287
JournalScience advances
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2024


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