Saturday February 16, 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.

Also Read: This New App Can Score Parkinson’s Severity

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

Next Story

Smart Garments to Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Patients

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants' progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care

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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

A team of researchers are in the process of developing smart garment technologies that would prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Falls, which are frequently caused by gait impairments and postural instability, are common and often devastating in the lives of people with Parkinson’s – a neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) are set to make StandingTall-PD — a neuro-rehabilitation programme — that aims to prevent freezing-of-gait and falls, and enhance patients’ independence.

The programme uses visual, audio and haptic sensory cues to help rewire the parts of the brain that control walking and preventing falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The combination of visual, audio and sensory elements helps to form new connections in less affected parts of the brain, leading to improved walking ability, the researchers said.

Now, smart garments to prevent falls in Parkinson’s patients.

“Existing dopamine therapies offer benefit in treating motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s but may not alleviate gait and balance challenges,” said Jamie L. Hamilton, Associate Director at the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) in the US.

“The new programme has the potential to become an affordable option to address gait and balance issues and improve overall quality of life for people with Parkinson’s,” said Hamilton.

For the study, researchers will give participants a mat with colour-coded stepping targets, a pair of Sensoria Smart Socks, an iPad and phone.

Also Read- India to Train 45 Countries in Nano-satellite Making

The programme can help enable participants to self-manage and monitor their own progress via an app on their phone. The app can also trigger stimuli during everyday activities, such as vibration in their Smart Socks, if they are in danger of experiencing freezing-of-gait, falls or if they show signs of shuffling feet.

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants’ progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care. (IANS)