Research shows big cause of Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia

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Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) are serious conditions that affect millions of people in the United States. They lead to problems with movement, shaking, and, as they progress, issues with memory.

Researchers have been working hard to understand these diseases better and recently, a team from Scripps Research has made some exciting discoveries.

At the heart of both Parkinson’s and LBD is a problem with how certain brain cells handle a protein called alpha-synuclein.

Normally, our bodies get rid of proteins that aren’t needed anymore, but in people with these diseases, alpha-synuclein sticks around and forms clumps. This is bad news for brain cells.

One of the key players in keeping cells healthy is a protein called p62. It helps get rid of unwanted proteins. However, the researchers found out that in Parkinson’s and LBD, p62 isn’t doing its job.

It gets changed in a way (through a process called S-nitrosylation) that stops it from working right because of high levels of nitrogen molecules, including nitric oxide. This leads to more and more alpha-synuclein clumps building up.

It gets worse because these clumps can leave one cell and move into others, spreading the problem throughout the brain.

This discovery about p62 and how it’s affected could be a big deal. It means that if we can stop p62 from being changed by nitrogen molecules, we might be able to stop the spread of these diseases.

The researchers are also looking into how vitamins like E and D might help treat or even prevent Parkinson’s. This is an exciting time for science, as understanding more about these diseases could lead to new treatments that make a real difference for people.

While Parkinson’s and LBD are still challenging diseases, these discoveries give us hope. They show us new ways to potentially slow down or stop these conditions, offering a brighter future for those affected.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies that Vitamin B may slow down cognitive decline, and Mediterranean diet could help lower risk of Parkinson’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing Plant-based diets could protect cognitive health from air pollution.

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