Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers debunk myth about Parkinson's disease

16.09.2014

Using advanced computer models, neuroscience researchers at the University of Copenhagen have gained new knowledge about the complex processes that cause Parkinson's disease. The findings have recently been published in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience.

The defining symptoms of Parkinson's disease are slow movements, muscular stiffness and shaking. There is currently no cure for the condition, so it is essential to conduct innovative research with the potential to shed some light on this terrible disruption to the central nervous system. Using advanced computer models, neuroscience researchers at the University of Copenhagen have gained new knowledge about the complex processes that cause Parkinson?s disease.

Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter which affects physical and psychological functions such as motor control, learning and memory. Levels of this substance are regulated by special dopamine cells. When the level of dopamine drops, nerve cells that constitute part of the brain's 'stop signal' are activated.

"This stop signal is rather like the safety lever on a motorised lawn mower: if you take your hand off the lever, the mower's motor stops. Similarly, dopamine must always be present in the system to block the stop signal. Parkinson's disease arises because for some reason the dopamine cells in the brain are lost, and it is known that the stop signal is being over-activated somehow or other. Many researchers have therefore considered it obvious that long-term lack of dopamine must be the cause of the distinctive symptoms that accompanies the disease. However, we can now use advanced computer simulations to challenge the existing paradigm and put forward a different theory about what actually takes place in the brain when the dopamine cells gradually die," explains Jakob Kisbye Dreyer, Postdoc at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen.

Read the article in Journal of Neuroscience

A thorn in the side

Scanning the brain of a patient suffering from Parkinson's disease reveals that in spite of dopamine cell death, there are no signs of a lack of dopamine – even at a comparatively late stage in the process.

"The inability to establish a lack of dopamine until advanced cases of Parkinson's disease has been a thorn in the side of researchers for many years. On the one hand, the symptoms indicate that the stop signal is over-activated, and patients are treated accordingly with a fair degree of success. On the other hand, data prove that they are not lacking dopamine," says Postdoc Jakob Kisbye Dreyer.

Computer models predict the progress of the disease

"Our calculations indicate that cell death only affects the level of dopamine very late in the process, but that symptoms can arise long before the level of the neurotransmitter starts to decline. The reason for this is that the fluctuations that normally make up a signal become weaker. In the computer model, the brain compensates for the shortage of signals by creating additional dopamine receptors. This has a positive effect initially, but as cell death progresses further, the correct signal may almost disappear. At this stage, the compensation becomes so overwhelming that even small variations in the level of dopamine trigger the stop signal – which can therefore cause the patient to develop the disease."

The new research findings may pave the way for earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

###

Contact:

Jakob Kisbye Dreyer
Mobile: +45 29 61 19 78

Jakob Kisbye Dreyer | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://healthsciences.ku.dk/

Further reports about: Faculty Health Medical Neuroscience Parkinson's Scanning death dopamine processes special symptoms

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>