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Could Parkinson’s Start in the Appendix?

Could Parkinson’s Start in the Appendix?
November 09
16:54 2018

What is Parkinson’s disease?

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation:

“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing (‘dopaminergic’) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra.”

So, what is the substantia nigra and where in the brain is it located?

“The  Our site substantia nigra (“black substance” in Latin) is a long nucleus located in the midbrain but considered functionally a part of the basal ganglia because of its reciprocal connections with other brainstem nuclei. It consists of two components, the pars compacta and the pars reticulata, which have different connections and use different neurotransmitters.”

It’s known that the substantia nigra plays a role in Parkinson’s disease, as described:

“Degeneration of the pars compacta of the substantia nigra results in the reduction of the availability of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This lack of dopaminergic innervation to the striatum results in disorders associated with hypokinesia or reduced motor movements. Parkinson’s disease is a result of reduced functioning of the substantia nigra.”

Most of us are familiar with one of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is the uncontrollable tremors but there are other symptoms we all need to be aware of. Sometimes the limbs get rigid, the person’s gait is problematic and they may tend to lose balance. Another symptom is called bradykinesia, the slowness of movement.

Parkinson’s became more widely known when actor Michael J. Fox announced that he had Parkinson’s at the early age of 37. Few know that he was first diagnosed seven years earlier at the age of only 29 (it was prior to his birthday that year).

So, what causes Parkinson’s disease?

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation:

“The cause remains largely unknown.”

They know that it has something to do with the dopaminergic loss that effects the substantia nigra region of the brain, but what causes the dopaminergic loss that impacts the substantia nigra? This is what the Parkinson’s Foundation says is unknown.

A new study suggests that the appendix may actually have a role as the starting point for Parkinson’s disease.

If you recall, for many years, scientists tried to tell us that the appendix was a useless, non-functioning organ left over from our evolutionary past. Over the past couple of decades, this has proven to be false as the appendix does have a modern useful function.

It was discovered that the appendix harbors a host of good bacteria, the same good bacteria that our intestines use to digest food. Have you ever heard the old saying – feed a cold, starve a fever? It’s true, because when our bodies run a fever, it kills off many of the good bacteria that helps us digest and process our food. When the bacteria killed off, the body often rejects the food through vomiting or diarrhea. When the body recovers, your intestines need to be repopulated with the necessary good bacteria. Guess where it gets that good bacteria from? Yep, the appendix.

How is this connected to Parkinson’s disease?

According to a new report:

“Removing the appendix early in life reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 19 to 25 percent, according to the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, published today in Science Translational Medicine.”

“The findings also solidify the role of the gut and immune system in the genesis of the disease, and reveal that the appendix acts as a major reservoir for abnormally folded alpha-synuclein proteins, which are closely linked to Parkinson’s onset and progression.”

“‘Our results point to the appendix as a site of origin for Parkinson’s and provide a path forward for devising new treatment strategies that leverage the gastrointestinal tract’s role in the development of the disease,’ said Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and senior author of the study. “Despite having a reputation as largely unnecessary, the appendix actually plays a major part in our immune systems, in regulating the makeup of our gut bacteria and now, as shown by our work, in Parkinson’s disease’.”

“The reduced risk for Parkinson’s was only apparent when the appendix and the alpha-synuclein contained within it were removed early in life, years before the onset of Parkinson’s, suggesting that the appendix may be involved in disease initiation. Removal of the appendix after the disease process starts, however, had no effect on disease progression.”

They are not recommending that everyone run out and have their appendix removed. However, the discovery of this association with the appendix may help lead researchers to find a treatment or better yet a cure or way to prevent the onset of this debilitating disease.

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HLA Staff

HLA Staff

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