Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Biology (BIOL)

First Advisor

Dr. Deepa Dabir


Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is characterized by a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) portion of the ventral midbrain, the region of the brain largely responsible for motor control, executive cognitive function, and emotional limbic activity (Sonne 2020). SNpc dopaminergic neurons are more vulnerable than those in other regions due to their high energy demand arising from long, highly branched, unmyelinated axons (Pissadaki & Bolam 2013). They also have a higher basal rate of oxidative phosphorylation, which has been hypothesized to further increase vulnerability in cases of PD (Pacelli et al., 2015). One of the major mitochondrial dysfunctions in PD patients is respiratory inhibition, specifically brought on by a reduction in complex I activity (Bindoff et al., 1989). Studies have found that complex I activity in the SNpc of PD patients is decreased by 40% (Schapira et al., 1990).