Alternative Pathogenesis for Parkinson’s Disease

Gut reaction Microscape/Science Photo Library

It seems like we have the wrong end of the stick all along. Contrary to popular belief, Parkinson’s disease may arise from damage to the gut and not the brain.

David Burn from Newcastle University realizes that “there are a lot of different mechanisms that could potentially stop the spread,” that is if the idea is correct. Parkinson’s disease is accompanied by the death of deep neurons in the brain resulting in tremors, stiffness, and difficulties in moving. The drugs used to contain the disease are becoming more and less effective as the disease progresses.

Parkinson’s disease is known for deposits of insoluble fibers of synuclein. Under normal circumstances, the synuclein substances are found as small soluble molecules in healthy nerve cells. In Parkinson’s disease, the synuclein molecules warp into a different shape then claim together as fibers.

“Knowing the location of the first strike allows for early detection – and treatment”

The idea arose about a decade ago when results of autopsies indicated synuclein fibers in nerves of the gut. At that period, the suggested trigger was ruled as unknown toxin or microbe. This finding is justified as people with Parkinson’s often report digestive problems. Therefore, this cannot be ruled out as a coincidence.

Collin Challis from the California Institute of Technology and colleagues injected synuclein fibers into the gut of mice. After three weeks, synuclein fibers had traveled from the guts to parts of the brain the control movement. The mice developed less mobility just like people with Parkinson’s. Such studies support the idea that Parkinson’s may arise from damage to the gut, not the brain.

There are a lot of other studies involving Parkinson’s, pesticides, and other triggers. The conclusion is that whatever the cause of Parkinson’s, early detection can be facilitated by knowing the location of the first strike thus, lead to treatment.

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