Scientists Find Genetic Link Between Parkinson’s Disease And Inflammation

Scientists and the medical fraternity are constantly working on gaining more knowledge on illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease in the hopes that one day they will develop a working therapy. Understanding the underlying mechanisms and conditions that cause a disease allows scientists to come up with effective therapeutic approaches.

A team of researchers from the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biology (LCSB) recently discovered a link between inflammation and genetic mutations found in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. They made the discovery through a study whose findings have been published in a scientific journal called Brain.

The researchers focused on two biomarkers that allow them to access the state, as well as the progression of Parkinson’s disease. They found that administering inflammatory medication demonstrated a significant influence on the disease progression in some patients. Roughly 15% of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease had a genetic predisposition. They were found to have the Parkin and PINK1 genes. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that are influenced by the Parkinson’s disease-related gene mutations may allow doctors to come up with the right therapeutic approaches that will be more effective in combatting the disease.

The research findings

Researchers evaluated blood serum samples from 245 patients in two study groups. The results indicated that patients with the Parkin or PINK1 genes mutations had higher levels of interleukin 6 (IL6) and circulating mitochondrial DNA. The researchers concluded that deficiency or absence of the Parkin or PINK1 proteins as a result of the corresponding gene mutation causes impaired mitophagy.

The resulting mitochondrial dysfunction triggers the release of mitochondrial DNA which in turn causes an increase in interleukin 6 levels, as well as inflammation. Once the IL6 reaches the brain it is believed to be one of the influences that contribute to neurodegeneration.

“Our study suggests that treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs holds the potential to alleviate the course of Parkinson’s disease—at least for patients with mutations in the Parkin or PINK1 gene,” stated Prof. Anne Grünewald who was one of the senior authors in the study.

The Professor also noted that the findings have potentially significant clinical applications. For example, the new data could be used to formulate early detection techniques or the development of better therapies for the disease.

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