Scientists from the University of Copenhagen recently found that the most common form of Parkinson’s disease is caused by a blockage of a pathway that regulates the nerve cell’s powerhouse, the mitochondria.
Seven 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.
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 fighting 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, researchers 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 an increase in 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 suggest 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 prevent dementia.
The study was conducted by Professor Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas et al and published in Molecular Psychiatry.
If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.
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