Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Compound In Tobacco That May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease

Date:
May 22, 2000
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
In a discovery that opens an important direction in the study of Parkinson's disease, Virginia Tech scientists have identified a compound in tobacco that inhibits an enzyme that breaks down key brain chemicals.

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 19, 2000 -- In a discovery that opens an important direction in the study of Parkinson's disease, Virginia Tech scientists have identified a compound in tobacco that inhibits an enzyme that breaks down key brain chemicals.

Related Articles


Parkinson's disease, a central nervous system disorder, causes the gradual deterioration of neurons in the section of the brain that controls movement. The brains of patients with Parkinson's disease typically have less of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Studies have shown that smokers are 50 percent less likely to get Parkinson's than non-smokers, but no one has isolated a particular substance in tobacco that may be responsible for that phenomenon.

Neal Castagnoli, director, and Kay Castagnoli, senior research associate, at Virginia Tech's Harvey W. Peters Center in the chemistry department, located in the College of Arts and Sciences, conducted research that has lead to the isolation of a compound in tobacco that protects against the loss of dopamine in mice and thereby may protect against the development of Parkinson's Disease.

"Joanna Fowler, a scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, found by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging that smokers' brains have 30 to 40 percent lower levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO)," Kay Castagnoli said. MAO normally breaks down neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Since the Castagnolis had already been conducting research involving MAO and neuroprotection, "We thought about the connection," Castagnoli said.

They decided to examine if there was a substance in tobacco that inhibits MAO. Ashraf Khalil, a postdoctoral fellow in the group, was able to separate and characterize a compound called 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-napthoquinone, or TMN, which was also known to be present in tobacco smoke and proved to be an inhibitor of MAO.

Using mice, the Castagnolis first administered TMN and then a potent neurotoxin, MPTP, a contaminant that had been discovered in a street drug sold in the early 1980s. The drug was meant to mimic the effects of heroin, but addicts who took large doses of the synthetic heroin suffered severe Parkinsonian symptoms. Neal Castagnoli, then working at the University of California at San Francisco, was one of the scientists who determined what caused the brain to turn the contaminant into a toxin that caused many of its users to develop the Parkinsonian symptoms.

In the recent tobacco study, the Castagnolis discovered that TMN, found in tobacco smoke as well as leaves, did in fact interfere with MAO and protected the rodents against the toxic effects of the synthetic-heroin contaminant. Although this discovery opens up the possibility of new avenues of research, "No one should start smoking based on these results," Kay Castagnoli said, "and people should continue to stop smoking. There's no evidence that the benefits of smoking will ever outweigh the risks."

"The finding that smoking decreases the risk for Parkinson's disease raises the question of identifying the actual neuroprotective agent among the hundreds of compounds present in cigarette smoke," said Donato Di Monte, director of Basic Research at the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, Calif. The discovery in the Castagnolis' lab, he said, "provides a critical clue for the development of drugs that may directly reproduce the neuroprotective action of smoking without exposing people to its other harmful health effects."

The results of the Castagnolis' research, which has included a second study of mice that confirmed their initial findings, is an important step in the study of Parkinson's disease, he said. "This compound may be the one involved in neuroprotection, but there may be others that, by acting on the enzyme, may have neuroprotective effects." Also, Kay Castagnoli said, it could be possible, in pharmaceutical industries, that this basic structure could be used as a template for the development of neuroprotective compounds.

The research was presented at the American Chemical Society national meeting in March. This summer, the Castagnolis, along with Ashraf Khalil, will look for other neuroprotective agents in tobacco.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Researchers Discover Compound In Tobacco That May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522083850.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2000, May 22). Researchers Discover Compound In Tobacco That May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522083850.htm
Virginia Tech. "Researchers Discover Compound In Tobacco That May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522083850.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins