Parkinson’s-related protein also protects against infections

June 14, 2017

Scientists have known for more than a century that Parkinson’s disease is associated with strange clumps of protein in the brain. Twenty years ago, researchers found that these clumps are mainly made of a protein called alpha-synuclein, but the normal role of this protein has been the subject of much debate.

New research led by Drs. Michael Schlossmacher and Julianna Tomlinson shows that alpha-synuclein helps protect the body from infections. They found that mice that lacked alpha-synuclein were more likely to succumb to both viral and bacterial infections.

They also developed a powerful new technique that allows them to visualize the interaction between various microbes and Parkinson’s-linked proteins (including alpha-synuclein) together in the nose and brain. This could help to test the intriguing theory that Parkinson’s can be triggered by an infection that starts in the nose.

See Translational Neurosciences and AlzForum.

Authors: Tomlinson JJ, Shutinoski B, Dong L, Meng F, Elleithy D, Lengacher NA, Nguyen AP, Cron GO, Jiang Q, Roberson ED, Nussbaum RL, Majbour NK, El-Agnaf OM, Bennett SA, Lagace DC, Woulfe JM, Sad S, Brown EG, Schlossmacher MG

Funders: Weston Brain Institute, Parkinson Canada, Parkinson Research Consortium, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Research Chairs Program, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation (Sam and Uttra Bhargava Family), Department of Medicine at The Ottawa Hospital

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