Research shows important causes of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body dementia

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Millions of people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). These conditions are not just about movement issues or shaking; they progressively impair memory and other critical brain functions.

Scientists are constantly searching for better ways to understand and treat these diseases, and a recent breakthrough by a team from Scripps Research is providing new hope.

At the core of both Parkinson’s and LBD is a problem related to how certain brain cells manage a protein called alpha-synuclein. In a healthy body, unnecessary proteins are usually broken down and eliminated.

However, in individuals with these conditions, alpha-synuclein does not go away as it should. Instead, it accumulates and forms clumps, which are harmful to brain cells.

A protein called p62 plays a vital role in maintaining cell health by helping to remove unwanted proteins. Unfortunately, the researchers discovered that in the cases of Parkinson’s and LBD, p62 is hindered from performing its crucial function.

This impairment occurs through a process known as S-nitrosylation, where p62 interacts with high levels of nitrogen molecules, including nitric oxide, altering its structure and function. As a result, alpha-synuclein continues to build up, forming more clumps.

The situation worsens as these clumps can transfer from one cell to another, spreading the issue across the brain. This understanding of how p62 is modified and its impact on disease progression is a significant finding.

It opens up the possibility that by preventing the alteration of p62, we might be able to halt or even reverse the spread of these neurological conditions.

Further, the research team is exploring the potential roles of vitamins like E and D in treating or possibly preventing Parkinson’s.

This line of inquiry is part of an exciting era in medical research, where deeper knowledge about the mechanisms of diseases leads to innovative treatments.

While Parkinson’s and LBD remain formidable challenges, the discoveries surrounding p62 and alpha-synuclein provide a glimmer of hope.

They point to new strategies that could potentially slow down or stop the progression of these debilitating diseases, offering a more hopeful outlook for affected individuals.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

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