The study was conducted by the NeuroGenetics Research Consortium, an international team of researchers led by Haydeh Payami, research scientist at the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center. The clinical directors for the study were Dr. Cyrus Zabetian, associate professor of neurology at the University of Washington and VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Stewart Factor at Emory University and John Nutt at Oregon Health and Sciences University.
The research team studied more than 2,000 Parkinson's disease patients and 2,000 healthy volunteers from clinics in Oregon, Washington, New York and Georgia, assessing clinical, genetic and environmental factors that might contribute to the development and progression of Parkinson's disease and its complications. Some of the research subjects were tracked for nearly two decades.
"Over the years, there have been subtle hints that immune function might be linked to Parkinson's disease" said Zabetian. "But now we have much more convincing evidence of this and a better idea of which parts of the immune system might be involved."
In the study, researchers detected a new association with the HLA (human leukocyte antigen) region, which contains a large number of genes related to immune system function in humans. With the new findings, and link to HLA, researchers will now be encouraged to take a fresh look at the possible role of infections, inflammation and autoimmunity in Parkinson's disease.
HLA genes are essential for recognizing foreign invaders from the body's own tissues. Similarly, HLA molecules are supposed to recognize a body's own tissue as itself and prevent immune reactions against them. But the system doesn't always work perfectly. HLA genes are highly variable from individual to individual. Certain variants of the genes are associated with increased risk or protection against infectious disease, while other variants can induce autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues. Multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease caused by autoimmunity, is also associated with HLA-DR. The genetic variant that is associated with Parkinson's disease is in the same region as the one associated with multiple sclerosis.
People who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen) have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's disease, which also supports an immune-related mechanism. The protective effect of NSAIDs is not the same for everyone, likely because of genetic differences, and NSAIDs can have side effects. Pursuing the connection between Parkinson's disease and inflammation, especially in the context of variable genetic makeup, may lead to better, more selective drugs for treating Parkinson's disease.
Consortium leaders recognize the study would not have been possible without the precious help from volunteer patients. "This type of research could not be done if it weren't for the willing and dedicated individuals who volunteer as research subjects," said Payami, who acknowledged that some study subjects participated for nearly two decades.
What's next for the team? "Our results also pointed to several other genes that might play a role in developing Parkinson's disease, and these findings need to be confirmed, so we have a lot of work ahead of us" said Zabetian. He and others in the consortium will now mine the data even more for gene-environment interactions, with a goal of finding environmental triggers and protectors to develop genetically-personalized therapeutics for treatment and prevention of Parkinson's disease.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Edmond J. Safra Global Genetic Consortium grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease Research.
Mary Guiden | EurekAlert!
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology