Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nicotine Found To Protect Against Parkinson's-like Brain Damage

Date:
August 7, 2006
Source:
The Parkinson's Institute
Summary:
Based on these findings, the researchers wondered what compound in cigarette smoke could be causing this effect. "We decided to focus our attention on nicotine because studies have shown that nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain region that is associated with Parkinson's," said Quik.

New research suggests that nicotine treatment protects against the same type of brain damage that occurs in Parkinson’s disease. The research was conducted in laboratory animals treated with MPTP, an agent that produces a gradual loss of brain function characteristic of Parkinson’s. Experimental animals receiving chronic administration of nicotine over a period of six months had 25 percent less damage from the MPTP treatment than those not receiving nicotine.

Related Articles


This protective effect may explain the lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease among smokers. The results also suggest that nicotine may be useful as a potential therapy in the treatment of early-stage Parkinson’s patients.

The five-year study was conducted by researchers at The Parkinson’s Institute, an independent, non-profit research institute located in Sunnyvale, California. The study results are published in an on-line early release in the Journal of Neurochemistry (doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2006.04078.x)

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of small clusters of cells in the midbrain. The gradual loss of these cells results in reduction of a critical transmitter called dopamine, the chemical messenger responsible for normal movement.

“While we would never recommend that people smoke, these results suggest that nicotine promotes the survival of dopamine-producing cells in animals with no overt Parkinson’s symptoms,” said David A. Schwartz, M.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the federal agency that provided funding for the study. “These findings also have implications for its use in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s.”

Most of the research on tobacco has focused on its detrimental health effects. However, studies conducted over the last 40 years show that the incidence of Parkinson’s disease is about 50 percent less in smokers than in the general population. “These studies were giving us clues that something in the smoke was reducing the incidence of Parkinson’s,” said Maryka Quik, Ph.D., a senior research scientist with The Parkinson’s Institute and lead author on the study.

Based on these findings, the researchers wondered what compound in cigarette smoke could be causing this effect. “We decided to focus our attention on nicotine because studies have shown that nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain region that is associated with Parkinson’s,” said Quik.

To test their theory, the researchers treated experimental animals with MPTP, an agent that selectively destroys the dopamine-producing brain cells. Half of the animals also received a low-dose administration of nicotine over a six-month period. During this time, the nicotine dose was gradually increased to a level typically found in cigarette smoke.

The test results showed that animals receiving only the MPTP suffered a 75 percent loss of function in their dopamine-containing brain cells. When the researchers tested the animals that had received both MPTP and nicotine, the damage in the dopamine cells was only 50 percent. “The results suggested that the nicotine treatment had reduced the cell damage by 25 percent,” said Quik.

While there is no immediate explanation for this effect, the researchers believe the nicotine may stimulate the release of naturally occurring proteins called growth factors that play a key role in nerve cell growth and repair. “It is also possible that the nicotine may activate the immune system to protect the cells from MPTP-induced damage,” said Quik.

According to Quik, Parkinson’s disease symptoms only start to develop when 80 to 90 percent of dopamine in striatal nerve terminals is depleted. “This means that a reduction in terminal damage from 80 to 60 percent can mean the difference between having disease symptoms and being symptom-free,” said Quik.

While treatments currently available for Parkinson’s disease are limited to the day to day relief of symptoms, nicotine may someday be used to reduce or even prevent the progression of the disease. “With current symptomatic therapies, the progress of the disease is not halted and, symptoms become worse and more difficult to control,” said Quik. “With neuroprotection, a patient could receive treatment that would halt the disease progress and prevent symptoms from getting worse.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Parkinson's Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Parkinson's Institute. "Nicotine Found To Protect Against Parkinson's-like Brain Damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060807154735.htm>.
The Parkinson's Institute. (2006, August 7). Nicotine Found To Protect Against Parkinson's-like Brain Damage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060807154735.htm
The Parkinson's Institute. "Nicotine Found To Protect Against Parkinson's-like Brain Damage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060807154735.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) — In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) 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