Tuesday April 23, 2019

Lipid Accumulation in The Brain May Be an Early Sign of Parkinson’s Disease

Lipid accumulation in brain may indicate Parkinson's risk

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Your work emails can affect your health, relationships
Your work emails can affect your health, relationships Pixabay

Elevated levels of certain types of lipids, or fat molecules, in the brain may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease, new research has found.

This finding, published online in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, could have significant implications for identifying patients who may be at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and for the early treatment of the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative, progressive disorder characterised by the dramatic reduction of nerve cells, particularly dopamine neurons that are involved in movement initiation, in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra.

“This (study) potentially provides an opportunity to treat lipid changes early on in Parkinson’s disease and protect nerve cells from dying, as well as the chance to use the lipid levels as biomarkers for patients at risk,” said study lead author Penny Hallett from McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in the US.

For many years now, the loss of the nerve cells has been attributed to the toxic accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein.

Representational image
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

In the past 15 years, however, researchers have been studying an interesting relationship between the risk of developing the disease and mutations that lead to loss of function in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene.

Scientists at the Neuroregeneration Research Institute at McLean Hospital had previously shown that there is an elevation of a class of lipids, called glycosphingolipids, in the substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Since ageing is the most significant risk factor for developing Parkinson’s disease, the team measured the levels of glycosphingolipids in the ageing brain, using young and old mice.

They found that the same glycosphingolipids that are increased in the brains of Parkinson’s disease patients are also elevated in the brains of ageing mice.

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These findings showed that both genetics (GBA gene mutation) and ageing can cause the same lipid elevations in the brain that are demonstrated in Parkinson’s disease pathology.

“These results lead to a new hypothesis that lipid alterations may create a number of problems inside nerve cells in degenerative ageing and Parkinson’s disease, and that these changes may precede some of the more obvious hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease, such as protein aggregates,” Hallett said.  IANS

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Researchers To Develop Novel Therapy For Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers developing new therapy to treat Parkinson's disease

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

Cell replacement may play an increasing role in alleviating the symptoms such as movement problems and memory loss of Parkinson’s disease (PD), researchers say.

The most common PD treatment today is based on enhancing the activity of the nigrostriatal pathway in the brain with dopamine-modulating therapies, thereby increasing striatal dopamine levels and improving motor impairment associated with the disease.

However, this treatment has significant long-term limitations and side effects.

“We are in desperate need of a better way of helping people with PD. It is on the increase worldwide. There is still no cure, and medications only go part way to fully treat incoordination and movement problems,” said Claire Henchcliffe, MD, from Weill Cornell Medicine in the US.

Parkinsons
Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells. (IANS)

Recent strides in stem cell technology mean that quality, consistency, activity, and safety can be assured, and that it is possible to grow essentially unlimited amounts of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the laboratory for transplantation, said a study, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

“We are moving into a very exciting era for stem cell therapy. The first-generation cells are now being trialed and new advances in stem cell biology and genetic engineering promise even better cells and therapies in the future,” said Malin Parmar, postdoctoral candidate from the Lund University in Sweden.

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“There is a long road ahead in demonstrating how well stem cell-based reparative therapies will work, and much to understand about what, where, and how to deliver the cells, and to whom,” said Parmar. (IANS)