12,000 people in Denmark and 7 to 10 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
It is the second most common neurogenerative disorder of aging and the most common movement disorder, but the cause of the disease is largely unknown.
In a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that the most common form of the disease, encompassing 90% to 95% of all Parkinson’s Disease cases known as sporadic PD, is caused by a blockage of a pathway that regulates the nerve cell’s powerhouse, the mitochondria.
The study is from the University of Copenhagen. One author is Professor Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas.
Just like when people eat, cells take what they need and get rid of the rest waste products. But if the brain cells have this specific kind of signaling blockage, it means that the powerhouse of the cell—mitochondria—cannot get cleaned up after being damaged.
According to the team, the blockage leads to an accumulation of high amounts of damaged mitochondria, while not being able to produce enough energy for the cells.
It causes neurons to gradually die, which is the reason for the development of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms, and why it leads to dementia.
The blockage is caused by a dysregulation of the immune genes, which is normally important for fight against viruses, but now researchers show that it is also responsible for regulating the energy supply of the nerve cells.
These pathways are very important for brain functions, but they are also associated with microbial and virus recognition.
For example, they are very important for fighting COVID-19, and a mutation in the related gene has been shown to be linked to a deadly outcome after contracting COVID-19.
In the study, the team combined and analyzed four data sets, which studied neurons from brains with Parkinson’s Disease and looked at what type of genes they express.
They then looked at which gene patterns were disturbed in patients with Parkinson’s Disease and especially those who had also developed PD with dementia.
They found that the accumulation of damaged mitochondrial mass leads to increase of other toxic proteins.
When they compared patients to same-aged healthy patients without Parkinson’s Disease, they found that a protein called PIAS2 is highly expressed in the neurons.
They suggests this pathway should be evaluated for potential roles in the other forms of familial Parkinson’s Disease.
The team hopes the study will encourage research to counteract the pathway blockage, which could have a beneficial impact on the disease and towards preventing dementia.
For more information about Parkinson’s disease and your health, please see recent studies about this stuff in berries may prevent and reverse Parkinson’s disease and results showing that eye tests could predict Parkinson’s disease 18 months ahead.
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