Neuromelanin is a dark pigment in the brain that gives color to neurotransmitting cells. The Czech anatomist Jan Evangelista Purkyne first described this pigment in the substantia nigra in 1838. No one thought it had any function until recent studies investigated how the loss of neuromelanin relates to the progression of Parkinson's disease. It's possible that just like melanin protects the skin from damage, neuromelanin protects against cell death.
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