Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that obstructs brain cells and causes movement problems, may originate from the annex, a…
Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that obstructs brain cells and causes movement problems, may originate from the annex, a new study suggests. The western body, say the researchers, can be the source of proteins that can find their way to the brain and extend a lethal grip on the nerves.
According to the study, published yesterday (31 October) in the journal Science Translational Medicine, people who had their attachment removed when they were young, 19-25 percent were less likely to develop Parkinson’s later in life.
The new study – though not the first to indicate that Parkinson’s can begin in the intestine, or even in the appendix ̵
1; was one of the largest things done so far. Research “further supports the perception that [Parkinson’s] begins in the intestine,” said Dr Ted Dawson, Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases at Johns Hopkins University, who was not part of the study, told Live Science.
In the first part of the study, the researchers were directed through two large databases – one containing information about more than 1.6 million people in Sweden and the other with data of 849 international patients who had Parkinson’s disease. Both databases indicated which people had removed their attachments. [10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp]
They found that people who had removed their attachments were 19 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s later in life, but only if they had the procedure done early – decades prior to the typical onset of the disease. In addition, people in the study who stopped developing Parkinson’s on average 3.6 years later if they had removed their attachments than people who still had their attachments.
The results indicate that the “may be important for early events or possibly at the beginning of this disease,” says senior author Viviane Labrie, a neuroscience professor at the Van Andel Research Institute, Michigan.
Labrie and her team also found that persons who had undergone appendectomy to remove the annex) living in rural areas were 25 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who had surgery and lived in urban areas. Parkinson’s is often more common in the countryside, which may be due to exposure to pesticides that are considered to be linked to the disease, Labrie said. This association was not present in those genetically predisposed to Parkinson’s, researchers said. (Only about 10 percent of people with Parkinson’s are genetically predisposed.)
A talking sign of Parkinson’s in the brain is “Lewy bodies” – large deposits of proteins that form themselves around neurons and prevent their emissions of chemicals or neurotransmitters that direct our movement and thoughts. These Lewy bodies consist mostly of abnormally shaped or “clumsy” proteins called alpha synucleins.
In the second part of the study Labrie and her team set themselves to look for these clumps of proteins in the annex. They depicted 48 attachments from people without Parkinson’s. The annexes were taken from both young and old patients. Some were inflamed and some were not (bowel inflammation is considered to be a potential risk factor for Parkinson’s).
They found that all the attachments had contained the protein clumps. In other words, the same proteins that cause chaos in the brain appear to be normal in the annex. This suggests that “what’s in the addition” may actually be a “seed” that can travel from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain and cause Parkinson’s, “said Labrie to Live Science. (The study, however, could not ultimately prove that this is the cause of the disease.)
It is unclear why the Annex has these lumps in the first place. The annex, but to a large extent – and wrongly – was considered worthless in the body, contains a number of immune cells and helps identify and monitor pathogens and raise red flags (immune responses) when they find them, Labrie said.
So maybe these lumps “may also be involved in immune function,” Labrie said.
Still, the results do not mean people should stop and schedule appendectomies. Parkinsons themselves are a relatively rare disease that affects less than 1 percent of the population.
“One of the things we do not want to pass on to humans is that [they] should have preventive appendectomy or just because you have an attachment, you will have Parkinson’s disease,” said Labrie. Rather, any future preventive treatments may aim to target levels of clumpy proteins in the intestine, or in some way prevent their escape into the brain.
In addition, researchers only looked at the attachment in this study, but there could be other sites in the GI channel that also have these lumps “which we have not looked at yet,” Labrie said.
Labrie now hopes to understand the molecular reason for what happens: If these clumps of proteins can not distinguish a healthy attachment from one that can secrete Parkinson’s, are there other biological markers that can?
It is obvious that the intestine whispers to the brain, the brain whispers to the intestines and together they turn tissues and carts into our bodies – a conversation that continues to remain very mysterious to us.
Originally published on Live Science.