HomeScience and ResearchScientific ResearchA Parkinson's Trigger Could Lead To New Treatments

A Parkinson’s Trigger Could Lead To New Treatments

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The new study published today says that the protein identified could lead to new treatments and change the progression of the Parkinson’s Disease

At the moment, there are no treatments for Parkinson’s disease that can stop the disease from getting worse. A group of scientists from all over the world, led by professors from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, wants to change that.

They just published new findings in the journal Brain that advance understanding of the crucial protein α-synuclein (αSyn), which they discovered ties inflammation and Parkinson’s disease.

αSyn is mainly expressed in neurons and has been linked to neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. This new study points to a unique mechanism as a potential precursor to Parkinson’s disease that connects interferon activation and αSyn function in neurons.

“It’s critical to understand further the triggers that contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease and how inflammation may interact with proteins found in the disease,” says David Beckham, MD, associate professor in the department of infectious disease at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “With this information, we could potentially provide new approaches for treatments by altering or interfering with these inflammatory pathways that may act as a trigger for the disease.”

Researchers gave RNA virus infections to αSyn knock-out (KO) mice and human αSyn KO dopaminergic neurons to find out how αSyn makes the immune system respond to viral infections in the brain. They found that αSyn is necessary for interferon-stimulated gene (ISGs) expression in neurons. They then discovered that αSyn interacts with signaling proteins in neurons to induce the expression of ISGs in response to any stimulation that results in interferon signals, a subtype of immune response.

This work shows for the first time how inflammation and aSyn, a protein closely linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease, work together.

The data, according to the authors, confirms that Syn responds to inflammatory and infectious pathways, and they speculate that this connection may be crucial in the emergence of Parkinson’s disease. The next critical step is to ascertain whether interactions between -αSyn and interferon cause the toxic forms of misfolded αSyn known as fibrils to develop, which have been linked to Parkinson’s disease.

Future research, according to the researchers, is required to examine the relationships between type 1 interferon signals in neurons and misfolded αSyn to ascertain whether medications that block these connections can stop the development of misfolded αSyn. This could lead to a way to treat patients that could change the course of their disease.

Image Credit: Getty

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