Parkinson disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system resulting from depletion of dopaminergic neurons and currently remains incurable despite enormous international research efforts. The development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology opened up the unique possibility of studying disease mechanisms in human tissue that was otherwise not accessible, such as the brain. Of particular interest are the monogenetic forms of PD as they closely resemble the more common ‘idiopathic’ PD and, through the mutated protein, provide a clear research target in iPSC-derived neurons. Recessively inherited Parkin and PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) mutations have been investigated in this context and the present review describes the first insights gained from studies in iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons, which comprise abnormalities in mitochondrial and dopamine homoeostasis, microtubular stability and axonal outgrowth. These new models of PD have a high translational potential that includes the identification of druggable targets, testing of known and novel therapeutic agents in the disease-relevant tissue using well-defined read-outs and potential regenerative approaches.

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