Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Discover Possible Link Between Oxidative Stress And Non-hereditary Degenerative Disease

Date:
April 27, 2006
Source:
Emory University Health Sciences Center
Summary:
The irreversible neurological degeneration associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases may be the consequence of oxidative stress -- the imbalance of antioxidants and pro-oxidants in cells. This imbalance results in an excess of reactive oxygen species -- harmful oxygen-containing molecules that can cause damage to proteins.

ATLANTA--The irreversible neurological degeneration associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases may be the consequence of oxidative stress--the imbalance of antioxidants and pro-oxidants in cells. This imbalance results in an excess of reactive oxygen species--harmful oxygen-containing molecules that can cause damage to proteins. In the April 21 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientists from the Emory University School of Medicine report that the protein DJ-1 is oxidatively damaged in non-hereditary (sporadic) Parkinson's disease.

While scientists do not know the function of DJ-1, they have previously identified abnormalities in DJ-1 that directly cause hereditary (familial) Parkinson's disease. About 10 percent of Parkinson's disease cases are hereditary forms caused by either a genetic deletion or mutations that result in amino acid substitutions, which can dramatically affect protein structure or function.

The cause of the 90 percent of Parkinson's Disease cases not influenced by genetics has remained more of a mystery. Lian Li, PhD, is associate professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine and lead author of this study, which was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. "One popular theory has suggested that these sporadic cases result from exposure to environmental toxins, such as herbicides or pesticides," she says. "Previous research has indicated that these toxins lead to oxidative stress. While oxidative stress does occur naturally as humans age, further oxidation caused by toxins may overwhelm the body's antioxidants."

Until now, attempts to link environmental toxins to oxidation and neurological disorders have been only somewhat successful, in part because scientists have been unable to identify the molecular target of oxidation. "This theory [that toxins cause oxidative stress] has been around for a long time," says Dr. Li. "But what's been damaged by this oxidative stress?"

Aware of the connection between DJ-1 mutations and familial Parkinson's disease, Dr. Li and her collaborators examined the oxidation levels of the protein in sporadic cases. Their hypothesis that DJ-1 was the missing link proved to be correct: DJ-1 in patients who had Parkinson's disease showed signs of oxidative damage, including structural changes as the protein accumulated additional oxygen molecules (carbonylation and methonine oxidation).

These modifications to DJ-1 caused by the oxidative stress are irreversible and irreparable. Like familial Parkinson's disease, the structural changes to the DJ-1 protein in sporadic Parkinson's disease signal an abnormality, leading to the eventual degradation and loss of the protein. "The protein unfolds and cannot function normally," Dr. Li explains. "Not recognizing the unfamiliar shape, the protein is broken down by the cell. The end result is the same: you lose your protein. Any mutation or modification causing this protein to lose its function will then lead to neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease."

Now that Dr. Li and her team are clear that a relationship between DJ-1 and neurodegeneration exists, they are preparing to extend their examination into the protein's role. Based on biochemical analysis, Dr. Li believes DJ-1 may serve as a protease, activating and deactivating a protein by cleaving the bonds that connect its amino acids. Dr. Li is also currently exploring the possibility that DJ-1 may serve as an antioxidant, and that when mutated or damaged, the protein cannot defend the cell.

Future information about the role of DJ-1 may enable the development of drugs to specifically target the protein, perhaps stopping or reversing Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease, which also may be impacted by the oxidation of DJ-1. In the meantime, says Dr. Li, people looking to prevent neurological degeneration might do well by looking to the kitchen cabinet, not the pharmacy: green tea and vitamin C supplements are two bountiful sources of antioxidants.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Emory University Health Sciences Center. "Scientists Discover Possible Link Between Oxidative Stress And Non-hereditary Degenerative Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060427215757.htm>.
Emory University Health Sciences Center. (2006, April 27). Scientists Discover Possible Link Between Oxidative Stress And Non-hereditary Degenerative Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060427215757.htm
Emory University Health Sciences Center. "Scientists Discover Possible Link Between Oxidative Stress And Non-hereditary Degenerative Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060427215757.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
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