Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Controlling 'Badly' Behaving Neurons May Ease Parkinson's Disease

Date:
March 14, 2003
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Blocking or eliminating a specific potassium channel in a small group of brain cells may improve or prevent the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that afflicts over 1 million people in the United States.

Blocking or eliminating a specific potassium channel in a small group of brain cells may improve or prevent the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that afflicts over 1 million people in the United States.

In Parkinson's disease, neurons that release dopamine die. The loss of dopamine causes an array of debilitating symptoms that include resting tremor, muscle rigidity and slowed movement.

Although the cause of the disease remains uncertain, James Surmeier and colleagues at Northwestern University have discovered a way of potentially lessening the symptoms and progression of the disease. The investigators describe their findings in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience.

Surmeier, who is Nathan Smith Davis Professor and chair of physiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and his co-researchers found that the "bad" behavior of neurons responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease is controlled by a potassium channel that is almost unique to the affected brain regions.

This potassium channel – referred to as Kv3.4 – is found in only small subsets of neurons outside the basal ganglia. Neurons of the subthalamic nucleus are enriched in this channel, making them capable of the "bad" activity patterns found in Parkinson's disease patients.

Surgically destroying these neurons or inserting a stimulating electrode in the brain to disrupt the neurons' "bad" activity provides symptomatic relief in late-stage Parkinson's patients. Unfortunately, these strategies can cause unwanted side effects, including uncontrolled movement.

"The perfect therapy for Parkinson's disease would be to prevent neurons from exhibiting the behavior that causes the symptoms of the disease without altering their 'good' behaviors," Surmeier said.

"Current strategies don't distinguish between these two modes of activity. It is also possible that the 'bad' behavior or these neurons contributes to the progression of the disease, which may not be ameliorated by deep-brain stimulation strategies that are being used today," Surmeier said.

The findings from his group's current study suggest that it is possible to stop high-frequency spiking in these neurons by blocking potassium channels with the Kv3.4 subunit or by eliminating the subunit using gene therapy techniques.

"Doing so will eliminate the 'bad' behavior but, importantly, preserve the 'good' behavior – normal regular spiking – of these neurons," he said.

Surmeier also said that it is possible the high-frequency burst of spikes in subthalamic neurons is responsible for Parkinson's disease itself, so that correcting this behavior will stop the disease in its tracks – the focus of his group's ongoing research at the Feinberg School.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health. Surmeier received a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NINDS to pursue this research.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Controlling 'Badly' Behaving Neurons May Ease Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071813.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2003, March 14). Controlling 'Badly' Behaving Neurons May Ease Parkinson's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071813.htm
Northwestern University. "Controlling 'Badly' Behaving Neurons May Ease Parkinson's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071813.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — A 111-year-old Japanese was certified as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Sakari Momoi, a native of Fukushima in northern Japan, was given a certificate at a hospital in Tokyo. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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