Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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trader32176
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Type 2 Diabetes Linked to Increased Risk of Parkinson’s

3/17/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... arkinsons/


People with type 2 diabetes may have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and for experiencing faster Parkinson’s progression, according to a large-scale analysis of past research.

The study, “Type 2 Diabetes as a Determinant of Parkinson’s Disease Risk and Progression,” was published in the journal Movement Disorders.

Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s both affect aging populations and share several biological similarities, including toxic protein accumulation, lysosomal and mitochondrial dysfunction, and chronic systemic inflammation.

Many studies have explored a possible relationship between the two illnesses, but the studies often have reached conflicting conclusions.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London sought to reconcile these conflicts by conducting a large-scale review of all available studies on the topic.

From 33,408 articles, the researchers selected 28 that were either observational studies that specifically investigated possible effects of type 2 diabetes on Parkinson’s, or studies analyzing how diabetes in general might affect Parkinson’s progression.

From nine studies that focused on type 2 diabetes specifically, the investigators calculated that people with type 2 diabetes were 1.21 times more more likely to develop Parkinson’s.

Including studies that evaluated any diabetes in the analysis showed “an overall null effect,” suggesting that only type 2 diabetes raised one’s Parkinson’s risk.

In both cases, the researchers saw no influence from either age or sex.

The analysis also revealed an association between type 2 diabetes and a faster progression of both motor symptoms and cognitive decline in Parkinson’s.

To gain insight into whether the relationships the team had discovered were truly causal or merely coincidental, they applied a technique called mendelian randomization to a separate analysis. Mendelian randomization relates well-understood genetic variation to observable outcomes such as disorders.

This analysis supported the link between type 2 diabetes (T2D) and faster motor symptom progression in Parkinson’s but found “no convincing evidence” to support the possible link to cognitive decline.

“This research brings together the results from many other studies to provide convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes likely affects not only Parkinson’s risk, but also Parkinson’s progression,” Alastair Noyce, PhD, the study’s senior author, said in a press release.

“There are many treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes, including prevention strategies, which may be re-purposed for the treatment of Parkinson’s,” he added.

Although this study did not examine the potential effects of diabetes medications, past studies have found evidence that antidiabetic therapies lower the risk and severity of Parkinson’s.

“Treating T2D may slow down the progression of [Parkinson’s],” the researchers concluded. “Thus, careful screening for T2D and early treatment of T2D in patients with [Parkinson’s] may be advisable.”
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Changes in Immune Cells of Blood in Sleep Disorder Patients Tied to Parkinson’s

3/18/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... arkinsons/


People with a sleep disorder marked by the physical “acting out” of vivid dreams — a condition considered an early form of Parkinson’s disease — show changes in specific immune cells in the blood that directly relate to inflammation and damage to dopamine neurons in the brain, researchers report.

These changes were found in monocytes of people with what is called isolated REM sleep behavior disorder (iRBD), suggesting that interaction between these blood-borne immune cells and brain cells precedes Parkinson’s and might offer new ways of treating it via the blood.

Changes in monocytes, a type of immune white blood cell that helps to protect the body against viruses and other invaders, may also serve as a blood biomarker of brain health in people with Parkinson’s and like synucleinopathies, the researchers wrote.

“This is the first study to show that the body’s immune system continuously communicates with the brain during the development of Parkinson’s disease, and that changes in the body’s immune system influence the condition of the neurons in the brain,” Marina Romero-Ramos, PhD, a professor in the department of biomedicine at Aarhus University, in Denmark, said in a university press release.

The study, “Monocyte markers correlate with immune and neuronal brain changes in REM sleep behavior disorder,” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a loss of dopamine neurons in a brain region called the substantia nigra, along with the toxic accumulation of the alpha-synuclein protein in clumps called Lewy bodies. These alterations activate immune cells in both the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (outside the central) nervous system.

These immune cells have both a protective role, by clearing alpha-synuclein, and a disease-causing role, by inducing inflammation that’s tied to neurodegeneration.

iRBD, a condition that is frequently associated with Parkinson’s, is also thought to be an early predictor of the disease. People with iRBD have been shown to develop non-motor symptoms and brain dysfunction similar to that observed in Parkinson’s patients. As such, “iRBD provides a powerful tool for the study of early events in PD [Parkinson’s disease],” the researchers wrote.

Previous research by this team found that iRBD patients have increased immune activation in the substantia nigra, and reduced function of dopaminergic neurons in the putamen, a brain region also involved in Parkinson’s. Building on those findings, these scientists analyzed the blood of people from the earlier study, to identify proteins whose high levels in their immune cells correlated with markers of the neuronal inflammation and dysfunction observed in Parkinson’s.

“We know that Parkinson’s disease is characterized by an inflammation in the brain, and that this is crucial for the progression of the disease. But in the study, our interest has been focused on the immune cells found outside the brain,” Romero-Ramos said.

Levels of the proteins CD11b, CCR2, HLA-DR, CD163, and TLR4, all of which are expressed by monocytes, were assessed. All these proteins affect immune responses and inflammation, and have been linked to Parkinson’s disease.

In total, they analyzed blood samples from 15 iRBD patients (12 males, mean age of 65) and 22 healthy people serving as controls (all male, mean age of 64.4 ).

A significant increase in the proportion of mature natural killer immune cells — which defend the body against infection and tumor growth — was seen in iRBD patients relative to controls. The percentage of classical inflammatory monocytes was significantly higher in iRBD patients, while the percentage of nonclassical monocytes, which are largely anti-inflammatory — was lower.

The percentage of immune cells expressing CD11b and CCR2, previously linked to Parkinson’s, was also higher in the iRBD group. But levels of HLA-DR, whose mutations have been linked to a late-onset Parkinson’s risk, was lower in iRBD patients. Mutations in the HLA-DR gene functionally translate to increased HLA-DR expression on blood cells isolated from Parkinson’s patients who carry such mutations.

The researchers suggested that the decrease in HLA-DR levels observed in iRBD patients might be related to the proliferation and expansion of the classical monocyte population — that which is connected to inflammation — an event that is “especially relevant” in the early stages of Parkinson’s and other disorders associated with alpha-synuclein clumping.

Notably, in iRBD patients, high levels of immune cells expressing CD163 corresponded to lower immune activation in the substantia nigra and increased dopamine levels in the putamen, while high levels of TLR4 corresponded with impaired dopamine function in the putamen. These results suggest that CD163 may have a protective role and TLR4 a damaging role in iRBD and, potentially, in Parkinson’s disease.

“These findings support monocytes as biomarkers and potential targets,” the researchers wrote, adding that, “[f]uture studies should address possible association between monocytic changes and disease progression.”

Although the work is limited by the small number of participants and overrepresentation of males in both groups, the researchers said these results offer important insights into how Parkinson’s develops.

“This opens up the possibility of being able to design immunotherapy that modulates cells in the blood, which subsequently would stop or delay the changes in the brain. For the patients, being able to enjoy more years with good quality of life will be very significant,” Romero-Ramos said.

“This lays the foundation. We can continue to build on the study, because we’ve now discovered that there is a change in the blood at a very early stage of Parkinson’s disease, and that it’s related to changes in the brain. We didn’t have the data to truly say this before,” she added.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Research Sheds Light on Iron Accumulation in Patients’ Brains

3/19/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... ts-brains/


In Parkinson’s disease, iron accumulates in certain parts of the brain that have characteristic genetic profiles, according to a new study.

This finding may help to explain the biological processes that cause Parkinson’s, which could be important for developing treatments.

The study, “Regional brain iron and gene expression provide insights into neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease,” was recently published in Brain.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. The exact biological mechanisms that cause this cell death are not completely understood; deciphering these mechanisms is important for designing strategies to treat the disease.

One mechanism that has been implicated in Parkinson’s is increased levels of iron in the brain. High iron levels can lead to a kind of cell damage called oxidative stress, which can be deadly to cells. Prior research has indicated that brain iron levels are linked with disease severity in Parkinson’s disease.

In the new study, a team of researchers in the U.K. used a technique called quantitative susceptibility mapping to assess brain iron levels in 96 people with Parkinson’s disease (with a disease duration of less than 10 years and mean age of 66.4), and 35 similarly-aged people without Parkinson’s. Mirroring earlier findings, Parkinson’s patients had significantly higher levels of iron in certain parts of their brains when compared to controls.

The researchers then wanted to explore why iron accumulates in certain brain regions in Parkinson’s disease. They analyzed data from the Allen Human Brain Atlas, which contains gene expression data for different brain regions in individuals with no history of neurological or psychiatric disease.

“Gene expression,” simply put, refers to the extent that individual genes are “turned on or off” within a cell. Different types of cells have different patterns of gene expression, and assessing gene expression can provide insight into the activity of cells.

The researchers looked for patterns in gene expression in the areas of the brain where iron accumulates in Parkinson’s patients.

Their analysis had several notable findings. For instance, they found that these brain regions had high expression of genes related to synaptic function, which is how neurons send chemical messages to each other. (Neurons are the cells in the nervous system that send electrical signals.)

“Disturbances in synaptic function are known to play a role in vulnerability and progression in Parkinson’s disease,” the researchers wrote.

These brain regions also had high expression of genes related to detoxifying heavy metals, which the researchers speculated could be connected to iron metabolism.

The gene expression analysis also indicated these brain regions were enriched for certain types of cells, including neurons that release a signaling molecule called glutamate, and astrocytes, which are a type of support cell in the nervous system.

“The finding of relative enrichment of astrocytes in regions with high levels of brain iron is intriguing as astrocytes play an important role in brain iron uptake and metabolism and in distributing iron to other neuronal cells,” the researchers wrote.

They added that glutamate signaling can cause excitotoxicity — when a neuron receives so many signals that it becomes damaged or dies — which has been, “linked with neurodegeneration [brain cell death] in Parkinson’s.”

Additional analyses of gene expression profiles in the brains of deceased Parkinson’s patients showed abnormalities comparable to some of the differences found, which “provides further evidence for processes involving brain iron in the selective vulnerabilities driving degeneration in Parkinson’s disease,” the researchers wrote.

This study was limited by the relatively low amount of data available for analyses, the researchers said, noting a need for further work to continue unraveling the mechanisms driving Parkinson’s.

“These findings shed light onto the processes driving neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease and the selective vulnerabilities of brain regions that are most affected, providing potential insights into future therapeutic targets to slow the progression of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease,” the team concluded.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Facial Recognition Program IDs Parkinson’s Patients as Older, Expressionless

3/22/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... ssionless/



Differences in the facial appearance and emotional expressions of people with Parkinson’s disease and healthy adults were evident to a facial recognition software program, researchers in Japan reported.

The program’s algorithm consistently overestimated the age of the nearly 100 patients in this study by a few years, particularly for males, and perceived their expressions as “emotionless” significantly more than those of the age-matched adults serving as a control group.

With improvements, especially those that raise ethical concerns like a greater inaccuracy with darker skin tones, such programs may help in diagnosing and managing Parkinson’s, the researchers wrote.

Their study, “Detecting facial characteristics of Parkinson’s disease by novel artificial intelligence (AI) softwares,” was published in the journal Brain Supplement.

Parkinson’s-associated motor symptoms, such as tremors and muscular rigidity, affect a person’s ability to show emotions via facial expressions, with implications for a patient’s sense of self-esteem and engagement in social life.

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be more able than other methods to track and quantify these changes with disease progression.

AI-based facial recognition technology analyzes facial characteristics, such as age, emotions, and skin texture, and could prove useful in assessing Parkinson’s-related changes.

But the “classification accuracy of commercial facial recognition software differs depending on gender and skin color,” the scientists wrote, and this “potential ethical issue should be carefully discussed and resolved to apply the facial recognition technology to medical situations.”

Researchers at Okayama University recruited 97 adults with Parkinson’s — at different disease stages — and 96 healthy adults (mean age of 69.5 for both groups) to their study.

“Whereas most previous studies evaluated the facial changes caused by PD during movement or tasks, we found evidence of specific facial changes based solely on a single photograph using modern AI,” Koh Tadokoro, MD, the study’s lead author, said in a university press release.

Tadokoro and his colleagues took a snapshot of each participant’s face using a webcam, which they then analyzed for age, gender, and emotion, using the commercially available program Microsoft Azure Face. Skin texture was analyzed using the “Face Log” smartphone app (v1.08), adjusted for a Japanese population.

Participants received no instructions regarding facial expression while being photographed.

Azure Face identified differences in people’s apparent age — the difference between AI-calculated age and actual age — and emotion. Age had to be adjusted for an Asian population, which were initially underestimated.

The algorithm then tended to score people with Parkinson’s as older than they really were, while ages for those in the control groups were generally accurate. The age gap for Parkinson’s patients was about 2.4 years and zero for controls. This effect appeared larger for men and younger patients, than for women and older patients.

Patients’ faces were also scored as expressionless or “mask like” more frequently than those of controls (88.9% vs .76.6%, respectively, on average) and less frequently as happy (4.7% vs 18.5%). Mask-like expressions are known in Parkinson’s patients and attributed to bradykinesia, or slow voluntary movement.

No differences between the two groups were found in the skin analysis, which looked at things like wrinkles, shadows under the eyes, and pore texture.

Biases in skin tone and gender-related issues, as well as the tendency for commercial software to underestimate ages of Asians, must be resolved before it can be used in clinical settings. Nonetheless, the researchers see potential in its future applications.

“We detected that [Parkinson’s] patients looked older and expressionless using [publicly] available AI face recognition software,” they concluded.

“AI facial recognition is an innovative and powerful technology,” they added, with potential for clinical use if ethical issues are adequately addressed.

“We hope our study accelerates the use of AI technology for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases,” Tadokoro said.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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COVID-19 Affected Speech, Language Therapies, UK Survey Shows

3/24/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... uk-survey/


Lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected speech and language therapy in patients with Parkinson’s disease, a survey in the United Kingdom shows.

The survey was conducted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and asked patients to share their experiences from the past year.

“There has been a huge impact from the pandemic on both individuals with Parkinson’s and services offering therapies to help people manage their condition,” Fiona Lindop, clinical lead for therapy at UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network, said in a Parkinson’s UK press release.

Some people with Parkinson’s have problems with their speech and communication. Speech and language therapists are healthcare professionals who specialize in all aspects of communication, including non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body language.

They give patients tips and techniques to help address motor symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, and communication problems they may experience.

The survey assessing the use of speech and language therapies during lockdown was completed by 97 people. About a third of the adults participating in the survey lived with Parkinson’s.

Results of the survey showed that the large majority of respondents (76%) believed these therapies improved their lives while 29% thought it improved their carer’s life.

The impact of lockdown on these therapies was felt by many participants, with more than half (52%) receiving fewer of these therapies during the first lockdown last year. Moreover, 44% of respondents did not get any therapy, while a third (33%) did not receive any in-person therapy.

Although many medical services did not stop during the pandemic, many had to be delivered differently, either using phone or video setups.

“Some speech and language therapy services have had to focus solely on swallowing problems, leaving individuals with speech problems with no access to assessment, advice and intervention,” added Lindop.

More than half (60%) of the participants found speech and language therapy to be “OK” over the phone. Some participants (20%) actually liked it, but some (20%) either did not like it or were unable to do it.

Regarding therapy on video, 57% of participants liked it. About a third (32%) found it “OK,” but some could not do it at all (11%). A third (33%) found it difficult that their therapist had to be wearing a mask during the sessions.

The survey also focused on the impact of lockdown on people’s swallowing and communication. Almost six of every 10 participants reported having dewer therapy sessions during the first lockdown, which worsened their mental health. Five in 10 respondents said it affected their social life and friendships, making their home life worse.

Six in 10 respondents said that having fewer sessions affected their family member or carer’s home life and mental health; five of 10 said it worsened their social life and friendships.

Almost half of all participants shared concerns about accessing speech and language therapy in the future.

“It is vital that services for speech and language therapy for people with Parkinson’s are restored as soon as possible, with robust policies to protect access and delivery,” Lindop said.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Parkinson’s Mutation Causes Impaired Neuron Growth Throughout Life

3/25/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... hout-life/


Dopamine-producing neurons in the brain grow throughout life, but this growth is hindered by a genetic mutation that is associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease, a new study demonstrates.

The researchers hope these findings will lead scientists to “focus on enhancing the generation of new dopamine-producing neurons, rather than just trying to protect these neurons from dying later,” the investigators said in a press release.

The study, “PINK1 deficiency impairs adult neurogenesis of dopaminergic neurons,” was published in Scientific Reports.

Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons — the nervous system cells that send electrical signals — are created. It was long thought that neurogenesis did not occur in the adult brain. However, emerging research has demonstrated that, at least in some instances, neurogenesis can occur throughout life.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the impairment or death of neurons in the brain that produce a signaling molecule called dopamine. To date, the relevance of adult neurogenesis in the biological processes of Parkinson’s has not been clear.

To learn more, an international team of researchers first expanded on previous efforts to characterize regions of dopamine-producing neurons in the brains of zebrafish. These fish are a useful model for this kind of research because their nervous systems can easily be seen throughout development.

In keeping with prior findings, the researchers identified several dopamine-producing brain regions in the fish. They showed that in some, but not all, of these regions, there was evidence of continued growth of dopamine-producing neurons — in other words, neurogenesis. However, they noted, the rate of neurogenesis declined with increasing age.

The team then examined the impact of mutations in a gene called PINK1 on these parts of the fishes’ brains.

“We know that mutations in the PINK1 gene cause an early onset, inherited form of Parkinson’s disease,” said Oliver Bandmann, MD, PhD, a professor at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, in the U.K., and a co-author of the new study.

“If we can further our understanding about the impact of this genetic mutation on the dopamine-producing neurons we can develop new therapeutic approaches that aim to mitigate those effects,” Bandmann said.

The researchers demonstrated that fish with or without mutant PINK1 show similar production of dopamine-producing neurons up to about three months of age. However, whereas this neurogenesis continues in wild-type fish, it is impaired in fish with a PINK1 mutation.

Additional experiments further demonstrated that the growth of dopamine-producing neurons was hindered in fish with a PINK1 mutation. Such PINK1 mutations also consistently led to a decrease in the numbers of progenitor cells — that is, cells that are able to grow and differentiate into dopamine-producing neurons.

“Zebrafish lacking functional PINK1 display comparable expansion of DA [dopamine-producing] neuron populations in early life stages … but fail to expand these populations in later stages of life,” the researchers concluded.

Notably, while animal models like zebrafish can be convenient for research, findings in these models do not always translate into humans. To test the relevance of these findings in human tissue, the team experimented with organoids.

As their name implies, organoids are a type of three-dimensional cell culture, in which cells are grown in a lab in a physical setup that is designed to mimic the way cells are arranged within the body’s organs. In this case, the researchers used organoids of brain tissue. Consistent with the fish experiments, they found that PINK1 mutations impaired the neurogenesis of dopamine-producing neurons.

“This study attests to the power of using simple model organisms for pre-clinical translational research,” said Marysia Placzek, a study co-author and a professor at the University of Sheffield.

“We used the zebrafish to demonstrate that dopamine-producing neurons are generated into adulthood at a rate that decreases with age and that PINK1-deficiency impairs neurogenesis of these neurons, significantly in early adult life. Our international collaborators then confirmed these results in a human organoid cell model,” Placzek said.

Overall, the findings support the idea that biological processes that impact neurogenesis later in life could play important roles in diseases like Parkinson’s. Further research efforts to better understand these processes, as well as the exact role of PINK1, are ongoing.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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Subtle Changes in Natural Oil of Skin May Mark Parkinson’s Onset

3/26/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... -uk-study/


Subtle changes in an oil naturally produced to protect the skin may announce whether or not you have Parkinson’s disease, according to a study in patients and other adults.

Scientists at the University of Manchester, building on previous work, discovered differences in the composition of sebum — the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands under the skin — between people with Parkinson’s and those without it.

If these findings are validated and further developed in future studies, sebum could provide a simple and non-invasive way to detect Parkinson’s in early stages, and possibly help in monitoring its progression.

The study, “Metabolomics of sebum reveals lipid dysregulation in Parkinson’s disease,” was published in Nature Communications.

Sebum is a complex fat-rich substance that serves to protect the skin by, among other things, helping to regulate its temperature and mitigate damage from sun exposure.

But it’s produced in excess in Parkinson’s patients, and is the cause of their “oily skin,” and the itchy and scaly rash called seborrheic dermatitis that occurs in up to 60% of these people.

While sebum is often studied in dermatology, it has rarely been used for diagnosing a disease.

The Manchester team had previously identified several chemicals in sebum from Parkinson’s patients that one member described as smelling similar to Parkinson’s.

This member, a retired nurse named Joy Milne, is a known Parkinson’s “super smeller.” Years earlier, she had reported noticing changes in her husband’s smell some time before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 45.

Milne’s description of a Parkinson’s aroma and the discovery of chemical differences in Parkinson’s-related sebum led Perdita Barran, PhD, and her associates to take a closer look at the biochemistry of skin oil.

“If we can define what is behind this Parkinson’s scent, perhaps we can develop objective tests to diagnose the disease earlier,” said Barran, in a press release from The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which with Parkinson’s UK supported the study.

“Measuring Parkinson’s disease with such an easy-to-obtain sample, a swab of skin secretions, would also allow for more widespread screening,” she added.

The researchers recruited 274 people to their study: 138 Parkinson’s patients taking disease-relevant medications, 80 “drug naïve” patients (no such medications), and 56 healthy adults as a control group. Sebum samples were collected through gauze swabbing of the skin of participants’ upper back.

Patients showed several marked differences in sebum composition relative to controls. But little difference was seen between patients based on their treatment status.

This suggested that the chemicals found in sebum were representative of the disorder itself, and not associated with dopaminergic medication.

Researchers noted that there was not enough clinical data “to hypothesise on the ability of a sebum analysis to help stratify disease progression, although it should be included in further studies.”

The greatest differences occurred in fat metabolism related to the carnitine shuttle, sphingolipids, arachidonic acid, and fatty acid biosynthesis.

The carnitine shuttle is a pathway for transporting long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) to mitochondria in cells, where they are converted to energy. Poorer mitochondrial metabolism of LCFAs is seen as a potential Parkinson’s biomarker, and dysregulation of the carnitine shuttle has been documented in frail, elderly people.

Disruptions to sphingolipid biology are implicated in defects in mitochondrial and lysosomal metabolism, both of which play roles in Parkinson’s. Higher alpha-synuclein levels, a hallmark of Parkinson’s, is also known to alter sphingolipid metabolism.

Ceramides, a type of sphingolipid, are directly linked to cholesterol production. Cholesterol, in turn, feeds into the steroid hormone production pathway, which is the most significantly altered pathway among medicated Parkinson’s patients.

Overall, the study succeeded in identifying differences between people with and without Parkinson’s using a simple skin swab. Although the team did not find enough data to support the use of this test in tracking disease progression, they wrote that this should be investigated in future studies.

“This study,” the researchers concluded, “shows sebum can be used to identify potential biomarkers for [Parkinson’s].”
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Canadian Grant to Test Fatty Molecules in Preventing Protein Toxicity in Brain

3/29/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... -toxicity/


A University of Alberta pharmacology professor and researcher will use a CA $1.04 million grant to investigate the potential role of fatty molecules — called gangliosides — in treating neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.

The grant, from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and worth about $826,000, was given to Simonetta Sipione, PhD, whose training was in biochemistry. Sipione and her team will investigate whether restoring the levels of a particular type of ganglioside, called GM1, can boost the brain’s ability to dispose of toxic proteins, or otherwise prevent them from accumulating to eventually kill nerve cells.

Gangliosides, fat molecules with a sugar link, are highly abundant in the nervous system. They play an important role in the communication between brain cells. However, during aging and in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, the levels of certain gangliosides start to decay.

“Gangliosides are highly enriched in the healthy brain. They help brain cells communicate with each other and with the environment,” Sipione said in a press release.

Boosting the levels of these fatty molecules is a potential strategy to lessen or even halt the onset of these neurodegenerative diseases.

“We are interested in finding out why” these levels drop, and in “developing a viable treatment that tackles the root of the disease, not just the symptoms,” Sipione added.

Sipione’s research is part of GlycoNet, a pan-Canadian research initiative bringing together academics and industry to investigate the potential of glycans — molecules with a sugar component — to treat various diseases.

Her work follows positive results in a mouse model of Huntington’s, in which injection of GM1 into the brain slowed disease progression.

“Restoring the level of GM1 in the brain could be a potential treatment for those who experience, or show signs of, neurodegeneration,” Sipione said.

Researchers believe that gangliosides like GM1 may instruct brain cells to dispose of toxic protein accumulates.

“Toxic proteins are like garbage and your brain is like a house. If garbage accumulates in the house and no one throws it out, your house is going to smell.

“We think GM1 and other gangliosides have a key role in instructing brain cells so that the garbage (toxic proteins) can be thrown out properly and eliminated by trash collectors, which are other biomolecules in the brain,” Sipione said.

“Our studies will help determine the underlying mechanism of GM1’s therapeutic effects and whether other similar molecules could be a novel treatment” for diseases that include Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, she added.
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Protein Fragment in CSF Shows Potential as Diagnostic Biomarker

3/30/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/03 ... arkinsons/


A protein fragment known as GPR37 is evident in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with Parkinson’s disease, and may be promising candidate as a biomarker for earlier diagnosis, scientists in Spain announced.

This fragment at high levels was found to be specific to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; the liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord) of Parkinson’s patients, as opposed to those with Alzheimer’s, another neurodegenerative disease, researchers with the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute at the University of Barcelona reported.

Their study “Ecto-GPR37: a potential biomarker for Parkinson’s disease,” was published in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration.

Although potential diagnostic biomarkers have been studied in Parkinson’s, none to date have shown an ability to be clinically useful.

GPR37 is a fragment of a G protein-coupled receptor expressed in several brain regions, and whose function in nerve cells is not completely understood. In certain cases of parkinsonism, an insoluble form of GPR37 is known to accumulate at toxic levels in the brain, suggesting a possible role of this receptor in Parkinson’s disease.

These neuroscientists assessed the expression of GPR37 in cases of sporadic Parkinson’s disease, investigating if it could be a suitable biomarker for Parkinson’s.

Their study included 41 patients (mean age of 64, mean disease duration of 5.8 years), and 45 age- and sex-matched volunteers with benign neurological diagnoses such as tension headache (mean age, 64) as a control group. Twelve of the patients were not taking dopaminergic therapies for their disease.

Parkinson’s patients underwent neurological exams, including evaluations of their motor and non-motor symptoms. CSF samples were collected from all study participants to determine the presence of GPR37 protein fragments (peptides), also called ecto-GPR37.

“Unlike the brain, we can access the cerebrospinal fluid much more easily. Cerebrospinal fluid is a mirror of what happens in the nervous system,” Francisco Ciruela, PhD, the study’s lead investigator, said in a press release.

The levels of ecto-GPR37, GPR37 protein and messenger RNA were also assessed in post-mortem CSF and brain samples from eight people with Parkinson’s (mean age, 71.4) and eight age-matched controls (mean age 66.8). Similar post-mortem samples of 23 people with Alzheimer’s disease (mean age 67.6) and 22 matched controls (mean age, 65.7) were collected from the Clinical Dementia Center of Göttingen, in Germany, and evaluated. Of note, messenger RNA or mRNA is the molecule generated from DNA and used as the template for protein production.

Results showed GPR37 density and mRNA expression to significantly higher in brain tissue of sporadic Parkinson’s patients compared with controls. Increased amounts of ecto-GPR37 peptides were also observed in the CSF of Parkinson’s patients.

When researchers looked at the levels of total alpha-synuclein — a protein that builds in the brain of Parkinson’s patients — in post-mortem CSF samples, they did not find a difference between these patients and controls.

Importantly, the amount of GPR37 mRNA and ecto-GPR37 in Alzheimer’s post-mortem samples were unchanged, suggesting that GPR37 is a highly specific biomarker for Parkinson’s disease.

“In this study, we reported, for the first time, that significantly higher levels of ecto-GPR37 were detectable in the CSF of PD [Parkinson’s disease] patients,” the researchers wrote, adding this finding “provides strong evidence supporting CSF ecto-GPR37 as a promising biomarker of PD.”

These results, however, must be validated in a larger group of patients before they might be of clinical use, they added.

“Further longitudinal studies combining CSF ecto-GPR37 with reliable biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases are needed,” the team wrote.

Ciruela and his team, together with researchers at the Karolinska Institute, were awarded a €125,033 (about $147,000), three-year research grant by The Michael J. Fox Foundation to further investigate this potential biomarker’s detection limits, specificity, and sensitivity.
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Re: Parkinsons Disease / Covid 19 & Parkinsons

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It’s April — Time to Participate in Parkinson’s Awareness Month

4/1/21


https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2021/04 ... ess-month/


Activities are underway to mark Parkinson’s Awareness Month, set aside each April to draw attention to the neurodegenerative disorder that affects some seven to 10 million people globally. At the center of this observance is World Parkinson’s Day April 11.

Patients, family, caregivers and friends across the country are sharing stories, asking local governments to issue proclamations, participating in virtual workshops and lectures, and even taking a quiz. All this is to heighten awareness of Parkinson’s disease (PD) among the general public, while gaining the attention of lawmakers, industry representatives, scientists, and health professionals.

The theme of this year’s awareness month is #KnowMorePD. As such, the Parkinson’s Foundation is seeking not only to raise awareness of the disease, but of all the resources the organization offers to help make lives better for people with Parkinson’s and their families, particularly during uncertain times.

“We have greatly expanded our research and education initiatives online to reach people with Parkinson’s and provide information they need to live better with the disease,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, in a statement to Parkinson’s News Today.

“As the pandemic continues, so does our commitment to raising awareness and acting as a frontline resource for the Parkinson’s community during Parkinson’s Awareness Month and beyond,” he said.

The organization is offering a downloadable guide with some suggestions and tools for participating from home this month. The guide includes a proclamation template for requests to local governments to officially recognize Parkinson’s Awareness Month, as well as a sample press release, e-mail blurb, letter to the editor, and sample email posts. The guide also includes several social media graphics.

In the guide, supporters are encouraged to post to social media using the hashtag #KnowMorePD. “All month long, post photos, videos, facts, stories, and resources on social media to raise awareness about PD and the Parkinson’s Foundation,” the organization requests in the guide.

Supporters are welcome to submit narratives to the organization’s My PD Story effort to tell people what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s and how the foundation is helping.

In keeping with the event’s theme, the foundation developed what it calls a #KnowMorePD Quiz, which supporters are asked to share on social media. If the quiz is taken during April, participants will be entered into a weekly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.

At month’s end, the organization will select a grand prize winner who will get a Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader that’s preloaded with all 12 of its educational books about Parkinson’s. Gift card drawings are April 12, 19, and 26, and May 3. The kindle drawing is May 3; that winner must be a U.S. resident. All winners will be notified via email.

Quiz questions include those about symptoms, Parkinson’s specialists, demographics, genetics, veterans with with the disease, exercise, and hospitalization.

As part of its goal to inform or remind people of resources it offers throughout the year, the foundation is calling attention to its twice-monthly podcast called “Substantial Matters: Life and Science of Parkinson’s,” and its PD Library, an extensive collection of books, fact sheets, videos, and more.

The organization also is presenting other events this month:

— April 5, “Mindfulness Mondays — Awareness of the Body for Pain Relief” Zoom presentation

— April 7, Parkinson’s Wellness Workshop: Qigong & Dance virtual workshops

— April 7, “Living with Parkinson’s: What You and Your Family Should Know” Zoom lecture

— April 7, “Understanding Thinking Changes in Parkinson’s” Zoom presentation

— April 8, “Celebrate Spring New York,” an annual fundraising event, virtual for this year

— April 8, “Life with Parkinson’s After the COVID-19 Vaccine” live online Q&A

— April 12, “Mindfulness Mondays — Awareness of Breath for Anxiety” Zoom presentation

— April 12, “Mind, Mood, and Motion” virtual lecture

— April 16, Spring Parkinson’s Symposium — Minnesota, a virtual event

— April 17, New York State Parkinson’s Education Symposium, a Zoom presentation

— April 19, “Mindfulness Mondays — Mantra for Stress Relief” Zoom presentation

— April 20, “Expert Briefing: Mental Well-Being and Memory” lecture

— April 21, “Living with Parkinson’s: What You and Your Family Should Know” virtual presentation

— April 24, “Let’s Talk About It: Symptoms Beneath the Surface” virtual presentation

— April 24, “Early Onset Parkinson’s: Strategies to Live Well” virtual presentation

— April 26, “Lunes de Atencion Plena — Mindfulness Mondays en Espanol” Zoom presentation

— April 27, Parkinson’s Wellness Workshop: Drumming & Taekwondo workshops. Virtual, community space, or outdoors.

— April 28, “Miercoles de Bienestar — Wellness Wednesdays en Espanol” virtual event

— April 28, “Veterans and PD: Social Connection and Empowerment” virtual program

— April 29, “Women and PD” virtual presentation

— April 30, “Getting Expert Parkinson’s Care in Eastern North Carolina” Zoom program

— April 30, “Women and PD: HOPE” virtual program

Elsewhere, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is asking awareness month supporters to sign up for updates of the latest research news. The organization also is encouraging people to download a free excerpt of the memoir, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality” by the MJFF’s founder: Parkinson’s patient and actor Michael J. Fox. Watch this space for an opportunity to ask Fox questions during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Also this month, the Brian Grant Foundation (BGF) is hosting a series of virtual events that are focused on using team-building to enhance the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s. Online events include “Motivational Monday” workouts plus an “Expert Q&A” webcast about constructing a Parkinson’s healthcare team.

The workouts will be led by television’s American Ninja Warrior Jimmy Choi and will stream on BGF’s social media channels each Monday in April at 9 a.m. PDT. The Q&A is on April 13 at noon PDT and features movement disorder specialist Suketu Khandhar, MD. More information is available here.

To further underscore “teamwork,” former NBA player Brian Grant, who established the foundation, will release his memoir, “Rebound: Soaring in the NBA, Battling Parkinson’s, and Finding What Really Matters,” on April 6. Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 36.

BioNews Services, which publishes this website, is presenting an initiative called 30 Days of Parkinson’s that will feature a range of stories from the community — patients, caregivers, and family members. The project features a different person sharing their life each day throughout April on Parkinson’s News Today, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

“Our ‘30 Days of Parkinson’s’ series provides us with the opportunity to highlight a wide range of stories from people within this community,” said Kevin Schaefer, director of forums for BioNews. “We will feature a wide range of stories from people living with PD, caregivers, family members, and more.”

The project is headed by Mary Beth Skylis, a Parkinson’s News Today columnist and forum moderator. “She’s assembling a fantastic team of contributors, and we’re excited to share these stories throughout April,” Schaefer said.

For World Parkinson’s Day April 11 the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society is seeking to raise awareness by sharing information, articles, and resources for patients, caregivers, and physicians through its social media channels. For the day’s observance, the organization is using the hashtags #MDS4Parkinsons and #UniteforParkinsons.

In Australia, Parkinson’s NSW is featuring a variety of events, and is inviting supporters to share photos and messages. Meanwhile, Parkinson’s UK will present a live event on April 11 to discuss topics that include the latest research and how you can support a friend with the disease. More information is available here.
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