Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience, Tokyo, Japan have established the mechanism by which gangliosides may help treat Parkinson's disease.
These data are presented in the May 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of dopamine-secreting cells in the brain, which results in impaired motor skills, speech, and other functions. Abnormal accumulation of the protein α-synuclein may contribute to this neuronal cell death.
Gangliosides have been shown to inhibit a-synuclein aggregation. To discover the mechanism that drives ganglioside-mediated protection from a-synuclein-caused cell death, Wei et al treated cells with a molecule that disrupts the function of lysosomes, cell components responsible for digesting unneeded and excess material in cells. Treatment with gangliosides reversed the lysosomal disruption, which suggests that gangliosides protect against the lysosomal damage of a-synuclein accumulation.
Based on their present result, Wei et al "speculate that deregulation of the expression of gangliosides may underlie the process of axonal degeneration. If this is the case, it is naturally expected that restoration of the protective action of gangliosides might be a useful therapeutic strategy."
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