Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Important Clue To The Cause Of Parkinson's Disease Discovered

Date:
January 7, 2008
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
A glitch in the mechanism by which cells recycle damaged components may trigger Parkinson's disease, according to a new study. The research could lead to new strategies for treating Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

A glitch in the mechanism by which cells recycle damaged components may trigger Parkinson's disease, according to a study by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. The research could lead to new strategies for treating Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

All cells depend on a surveillance system known as autophagy (which literally means "self eating") to digest and recycle the damaged molecules that arise as cells age. In autophagy, defective proteins and other molecules are transported to membrane-bound sacs called lysosomes. After attaching to the lysosomal membrane, the molecules enter the lysosome, where they are digested by enzymes. This cleanup process may be particularly important for nerve cells, which generate defective molecules more rapidly than most other types of cells. When autophagy is impaired, toxic compounds can accumulate and cause cell death.

"It is widely suspected that accumulation of a particular protein, known as alpha-synuclein, within affected nerve cells of Parkinson's disease patients contributes to the death of these cells," says Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, senior author of the article and associate professor of anatomy & structural biology at Einstein.

Dr. Cuervo previously showed that mutant forms of alpha-synuclein--found in the five to 10 percent of patients who have familial Parkinson's disease--are poorly digested via autophagy and also block the breakdown of other substances. While these alpha-synuclein mutations are rare, other modifications of alpha-synuclein--phosphorylated and oxidized forms, for example--can be found in the brains of all Parkinson's disease patients.

In this study, Dr. Cuervo and her colleagues looked at how several different modified forms of alpha-synuclein affected autophagy in vitro and in tissue culture. One particular modification of alpha-synuclein was found to interfere with autophagy: the compound created by the interaction of alpha-synuclein with dopamine, the main neurotransmitter produced by the nerve cells damaged in Parkinson's disease.

"Alpha-synuclein molecules modified by dopamine bound tightly to the lysosomal membrane, but they got stuck there and weren't effectively transported into the lysosome," says Dr. Cuervo. As a result, the alpha-synuclein molecules altered by dopamine were poorly degraded, and the presence of these molecules on the lysosomal membranes interfered with autophagic digestion of other compounds as well.

"We propose that inhibition of autophagy caused by dopamine's alteration of alpha-synuclein could explain the selective death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Cuervo, who notes that interference with autophagy has also been implicated in other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's.

"By devising strategies for boosting autophagy in nerve cells or suppressing the chemical reactions that interfere with the autophagy--by lowering alpha synuclein expression, for example--we may be able to treat patients afflicted with these conditions," she says.

This research appears in the January 2 advance online issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Other Einstein scientists involved in the research were lead author Marta Martinez-Vicente, Susmita Kaushik, Ashish Massey and Dr. Antonia Follenzi. This work also included collaborators from Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard Medical School.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Important Clue To The Cause Of Parkinson's Disease Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080102222944.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2008, January 7). Important Clue To The Cause Of Parkinson's Disease Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080102222944.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Important Clue To The Cause Of Parkinson's Disease Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080102222944.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. 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:
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