A recent study could change our understanding of the ways in which mitochondria, or the powerhouses of the cells, influence Parkinson’s disease. The latest results fly in the face of current theories.
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the United States, and it affects an estimated 1 millionpeople there, plus 10 million worldwide.
The disease causes a gradual impairment of motor skills, with symptoms including tremor and rigidity. Parkinson’s can also lead to dementia, depression, and anxiety.
The primary changes in the Parkinson’s disease-affected brain occur in a small region called the substantia nigra. These dopamine-producing neurons die off, and the region is infiltrated by so-called Lewy bodies, which are abnormal aggregates of protein.
Despite years of research, the mechanisms that underly Parkinson’s disease are unknown. However, recent research implies that mitochondrial dysfunction might be involved.