Whilst conditions such as a severe stroke have been linked to the disease, for many sufferers the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease can appear to come out of the blue. Researchers at the university's Faculty of Life Sciences have now discovered that a small stroke, also known as a silent stroke, can cause Parkinson's disease. Their findings have been published in the journal "Brain Behaviour and Immunity".
Unlike a severe stroke, a silent stroke can show no outward symptoms of having taken place. It happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked for only a very short amount of time and often a patient won't know they have suffered from one. However, it now appears one of the lasting effects of a silent stroke can be the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra in the brain, which is an important region for movement coordination.
Dr. Emmanuel Pinteaux led the research: "At the moment we don't know why dopaminergic neurons start to die in the brain and therefore why people get Parkinson's disease. There have been suggestions that oxidative stress and aging are responsible. What we wanted to do in our study was to look at what happens in the brain away from the immediate area where a silent stroke has occurred and whether that could lead to damage that might result in Parkinson's disease."
The team induced a mild stroke similar to a silent stroke in the striatum area of the brain in mice. They found there was inflammation and brain damage in the striatum following the stroke, which they had expected. What the researchers didn't expect was the impact on another area of the brain, the substantia nigra. When they analysed the substantia nigra they recorded a rapid loss of Substance P (a key chemical involved in its functions) as well as inflammation.
The team then analysed changes in the brain six days after the mild stroke and found neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra. Dopaminergic neurones had been killed.
Talking about the findings Dr Pinteaux said: "It is well known that inflammation following a stroke can be very damaging to the brain. But what we didn't fully appreciate was the impact on areas of the brain away from the location of the stroke. Our work identifying that a silent stroke can lead to Parkinson's disease shows it is more important than ever to ensure stroke patients have swift access to anti-inflammatory medication. These drugs could potentially either delay or stop the on-set of Parkinson's disease."
Dr Pinteaux continued: "What our findings also point to is the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are already guidelines about exercise and healthy eating to help reduce the risk of having a stroke and our research suggests that a healthy lifestyle can be applied to Parkinson's disease as well."
Following the publication of these findings, Dr Pinteaux hopes to set up a clinical investigation on people who have had a silent stroke to assess dopaminergic neuron degeneration. In the meantime he will be working closely will colleagues at The University of Manchester to better understand the mechanisms of inflammation in the substantia nigra.
Morwenna Grills | EurekAlert!
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy