Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which till now does not have a cure. Parkinson’s Disease was discovered by Dr. James Parkinson around 200 years ago describing the signs and symptoms. Medical professionals are continuously trying to find the causes of Parkinson’s Disease in order to find the cure and prevention. But till now only the symptoms are identified which are only treatable. There is extensive study going on related to finding both the cause and the cure which led to many discoveries undergoing studies and tests.
Potential Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease occurs in people whose nerve cells in the brain responsible for sending and receiving signals to and from the body for movements and posture die. These brain cells reside in the deeper parts of the brain known as basal ganglia and substantia nigra. When 80% of these nerve cells are lost, visible symptoms start occurring. Some of the potential causes of Parkinson’s Disease are mentioned below.
Researchers at Purdue University have identified a compound that accumulates in the disease affected brain tissue. It can be identified as a toxic, foul smelling byproduct of burnt fat. Your brain burns fat to use it as fuel. While in normal people, Acrolein is eliminated completely from the body, Parkinson’s Disease patients have accumulated amounts of it in the substantia nigra. This substance can promote the build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein which is responsible for destroying the cell membranes and key machineries of neurons resulting in killing of the brain cells. When extensiveness of these cell deaths increases, symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease become evident enough.
Overactive Immune System
An extensive research led by Dr. Michel Desjardins from the University of Montreal discovered that two genes associated with Parkinson’s Disease are also the key regulators of the immune system which may be a direct evidence of the disorder being an auto immune disease. The proteins produced by the genes PINK1 and Parkin are essential to prevent cells from being detected and attacked by the immune system. Many studies suggest that immune system is overactive in the brain of Parkinson’s Disease patients.
When these genes become dysfunctional, which happens in Parkinson’s Disease, the cells display small parts of proteins on the surface known as antigens derived from mitochondria. The presence of these cells on the surface triggers immune cells called lymphocyte T cells. The neuron cells of Parkinson ’s disease patients become mitochondrial antigens and immune cells enter the brain without any restriction leading to death of the neuron cells.
Another study conducted by BioFIND tried to differentiate the biomarkers of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease based on fluids collected from spine, blood and saliva. The study found that alpha-synuclein was lower in the cerebrospinal fluid of Parkinson’s Disease patients especially in those with symptoms related to balance and walking. The amount of Beta Amyloid which is known for its association with Alzheimer’s disease is also lower in Parkinson’s Disease patients. This may indicate the reason behind memory and thinking issues in these patients.
Drugs Related Causes
There are many studies according to the Mayfield clinic which indicate that certain medications may trigger Parkinson’s Disease in some people. Although, the medicines do not act directly and act as pseudo triggers which promote the already ailing cause of the disease. Medications used to treat confusion, hallucination, hypertension, nausea are one of the major contributors to trigger Parkinson’s Disease.
Potential Treatment Options of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is currently treated with traditional medications and surgical methods like Deep Brain Stimulation. But based on the studies conducted over time, new options to add value to the treatment are also available especially in terms of medications. But there are other treatment options available which still need approval from FDA and thorough safety tests.
Deep Brain Stimulation Targeting
Till now, Deep Brain Stimulation surgery is targeted to the sub-thalamus part of the brain which is critical for movement of body parts. This procedure is approved and is seen to be quite efficient in reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. However, a new area is being tested for targeting with DBS specifically for Parkinson’s Disease dementia. The new target area is the nucleus basalis of Meynert. This area is the most important source for releasing the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine to other brain areas which is critical for cognitive functioning. It may help improve in the tolerance of DBS treatment, reduction in visual hallucinations and decreased severity and frequency of Dyskinesia.
There are several medications still undergoing testing and approvals for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. But one of the most exciting new drugs in the pipeline is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). It is already being used as an agonist to treat diabetes. Many clinical studies suggest that this medication helps in inhibiting cell death, reducing oxidative stress, enhancing mitochondria function, and promoting neuronal functioning.
Another medication under phase 3 trial testing is Opicapone. It can provide benefits to the patients in controlling motor fluctuations as it works by slowing the breakdown of symptom controller medications. It also helps in extending the dosage gaps and results in fewer side effects with less intensity.
Disclaimer – The above provided content is for informational purpose only. None of the above tips or treatments should be used/take/executed without prior approval from a medical professional. Always follow the prescribed treatment of your medical professional.