Disrupted transportation routes in nerve cells are a cause of Parkinson’s

Traffic jams in the brain.


A new study by the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg(FAU) scientists demonstrated that traffic jams also occur in the brain. The jams are in the form of disrupted transportation routes in nerve cells that may lead to Parkinson’s disease.

The reason behind the traffic jam in nerve cells is a protein called alpha-synuclein. In abnormal nerve cells, the protein shapes deposits, or even lumps, prompting a delay, disturbing the energy supply of the nerve fibers and, eventually, harming the synapses.

It is essential for nerve cell communication that the cell body regularly supplies synapses with energy. If this energy supply is interfered with, the synapses are crushed. Associations between nerve cells are then disrupted, which can prompt the cells to die off. This procedure is normal for improving mental issues, such as Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers also demonstrated this mechanism in cell cultures taken from patients with Parkinson’s. A small skin sample was taken from affected patients. These skin cells were then converted into stem cells, which can be developed into any type of cell, including nerve cells.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Iryna Prots, says “Our findings mean we can improve our understanding of the mechanisms that cause Parkinson’s and push forward new strategies for treatment during the progression of the disease.”

Journal Reference

  1. Prots, I., Grosch, J., Brazdis, R., Simmnacher, K., Veber, V., Havlicek, S., Hannappel, C., Krach, F., Krumbiegel, M., Schütz, O., Reis, A., Wrasidlo, W., Galasko, D. R., Groemer, T. W., Masliah, E., Xiang, W., Winkler, J., & Winner, B. (2018). α-Synuclein oligomers induce early axonal dysfunction in human iPSC-based models of synucleinopathies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(30), 7813-7818. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1713129115


See stories of the future in your inbox each morning.