Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hunting down the trigger for Parkinson’s: failing dopamine pump damages brain cells


A study group at the Medical University of Vienna's Centre for Brain Research has investigated the function of an intracellular dopamine pump in Parkinson’s patients compared to a healthy test group.

It turned out that this pump is less effective at pumping out dopamine and storing it in the brain cells of Parkinson's sufferers. If dopamine is not stored correctly, however, it can cause self-destruction of the affected nerve cells.

In the brain, dopamine mediates the exchange of information between different neurons and, to help it do this, it is continuously reformed at the contact points between the corresponding nerve cells. It is stored in structures known as vesicles (intracellular bubbles) and it is released when required. In people with Parkinson’s disease, the death of these nerve cells causes a lack of dopamine, and this in turn causes the familiar movement problems such as motor retardation, stiffness of the muscles and tremors.

More than 50 years ago, in the Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Vienna (now the MedUni Vienna), Herbert Ehringer and Oleh Hornykiewicz discovered that Parkinson’s disease is caused by a lack of dopamine in certain regions of the brain. This discovery enabled Hornykiewicz to introduce the amino acid L-DOPA into the treatment of Parkinson’s to substitute the dopamine and make the symptoms of the condition manageable for years.

The reasons for the death of nerve cells in Parkinson's disease are not yet fully understood, however, which is why it is still not possible to prevent the disease from developing. Nevertheless, dopamine itself, if it is not stored correctly in vesicles, can cause self-destruction of the affected nerve cells.

Now, a further step forward has been taken in the research into the causes of this disease: a study at the MedUni Vienna’s Centre for Brain Research, led by Christian Pifl and the now 87-year-old Oleh Hornykiewicz, compared the brains of deceased Parkinson's patients with those of a neurologically healthy control group. For the first time, it was possible to prepare the dopamine-storing vesicles from the brains so that their ability to store dopamine by pumping it in could be measured in quantitative terms.

It turned out that the pumps in the vesicles of Parkinson’s sufferers pumped the dopamine out less efficiently. “This pump deficiency and the associated reduction in dopamine storage capacity of the Parkinson’s vesicles could lead to dopamine collecting in the nerve cells, developing its toxic effect and destroying the nerve cells," explains Christian Pifl.

Journal of Neuroscience
Christian Pifl, Alex Rajput, Harald Reither, Javier Blesa, Carmen Cavada, José A. Obeso, Ali H. Rajput, Oleh Hornykiewicz – Is Parkinson’s disease a vesicular dopamine storage disorder? Evidence from a study in isolated synaptic vesicles of human and non-human primate striatum. Journal of Neuroscience

Johannes Angerer | AlphaGalileo

Further reports about: Neuroscience Parkinson’s dopamine movement pump structures vesicles

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>