A new study by the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg(FAU) scientists demonstrated that the traffic jams also occurs 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.
For the communication between nerve cells, it is essential for cell body to regularly supply 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 dying off. This procedure is normal for the improvement of mind issue, for example, Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers were also able to demonstrate 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, and in this case, into 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.”
The study is published today in PNAS.