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Pumping iron raises prospect Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's treatment


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#1 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:21 AM

More information on metals vs. PD. -Kathrynne


Pumping iron raises prospect Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's treatment
Researchers have found a drug that removes excess iron from the brain can prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's disease in mice, raising the prospect of a new treatment.



Researchers from the Mental Health Research Institute and University of Melbourne have found that an abnormal accumulation of iron in the brain, caused by a malfunctioning protein which helps regulate iron levels, contributes to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers also treated mice with a drug that helps remove excess iron from the brain, reversing some of the effects of the Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and raising hopes for a possible future treatment for the neurological diseases.

The protein at the centre of the story, tau, has long been known to be associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, although the specific mechanism involved was unclear.

It now appears as though tau works to transport another protein, amyloid precursor protein (APP), to the surface of cells, where it escorts excess iron from the premises.

If there are abnormalities in the function of tau, this process can break down, resulting in a build-up of iron in regions of the brain, leading to neurodegeneration.

The researchers used tau knockout mice, which lack the key protein, to see how it affected their neurological function.

As Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are both associated with old age, they hypothesised that the mice would only begin degenerating as they aged, and this is precisely what they found.

The tau knockout mice behaved normally for around the first six months, but then experienced neurodegeneration resulting in impaired physical ability by 12 months. At that point, the neurodegeneration plateaued.

Upon examining the brains of the tau knockout mice, the researchers observed neurodegeneration that is characteristic of Parkinson’s, suggesting the tau deficit plays a significant role in the disease.

They then treated some of the tau knockout mice with a drug, clioquinol, which reduces iron levels in key areas of the brain, and found the drug entirely prevented the onset of neurodegeneration.

The discovery not only sheds light on a potential mechanism responsible for causing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, but also raises the prospect of a new drug treatment to rid the brain of excess iron.

The paper was published online yesterday at the journal Nature Medicine.


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Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#2 jb97222

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 06:30 PM

This is very interesting. I have had excessive levels of iron in my blood. Though I do not have the genetic marker for hemachromatosis, I have had a phlebotomy 3 times in the past couple of years. My doctor checks my iron quarterly and i've been fine for a while. However, somewhere, I have read that in the case of PD there is an ideal range for iron. I wonder what that ideal range is? If the "normal" range is higher, I'm wondering if I should try to lower it?

#3 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 04:11 PM

I do not know the ideal range you speak of, but it is accepted that with progression of PD, levels of iron and also ferritin in the blood may decrease, though it is not known whether this is due to PD or a cause of PD.

Your question is a very good one, and I recommend you post it to "Ask the Doctor" for guidance.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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For a Parkinson Tip of the Day visit:

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