There has been made new developments in the understanding of neurodegenerative disorders in the past few years. A recent groundbreaking study was made on Parkinson’s disease and the origins of the condition. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system that harms the motor system. Signs of the disorder are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty when walking.
The study shows that the ones causing the disorder are nerve-killing proteins which can be found in the gut microbiome. These proteins reach the base of the brain through the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that links the brain to the digestive tract, among others. Once they get there, these misfolded proteins pile up and affect the nervous system, which results in shaking and rigidity of the muscles.
To demonstrate researchers’ theories, tests on mice were conducted. Scientists did two experiments to confirm that stomach proteins are responsible for the development of Parkinson’s disease. The healthy mice were injected in the stomach with lab-made misfolded alpha-synuclein, a protein usually found in the brain at the extremities of nerve cells. Then, brain tissue samples were taken from them after one, three, seven, and ten months.
Nerve-Killing Proteins Cause Parkinson’s Disease
The groundbreaking study results showed that the protein started to expand to the brain. Some of the mice underwent surgical procedures to cut the vagus nerve. Again, all mice were injected with alpha-synuclein. After a few months, the mice that didn’t go through surgery presented evidence of cell death, while the others didn’t. The fact that the vagus nerve was cut didn’t permit the misfolded protein to travel to the brain and affect it.
In addition to that, the researchers studied behavioral disparities between the two groups of mice. It was discovered that the mice that were affected by the misfolded alpha-synuclein behaved contrastingly with the healthy mice and showed all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Ted Dawson, the author of the study and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, US, said that ‘this is an exciting discovery for the field and presents a target for early intervention in the disease.’ He further added that stopping the transmission of the proteins by the vagus nerve could be the solution to prevent the apparition of Parkinson’s disease. The team continues to study and try to discover the methods the disease can be stopped.