Autoimmunity May Play a Part In Parkinson’s Disease


Published Date : Jun 22, 2017

A new evidence found by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, NY, and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California states that autoimmunity could play a part in Parkinson’s disease. Fragments of the protein have been found that has built up in the dopamine cells present in the brain of people suffering from Parkinson's disease. These proteins trigger an immune response and have the ability to kill the cells. The study states that there may be a possibility of obstructing this immune response and slow down the progression of this disease which destroys the brain.

Alpha-synuclein Fragments Trigger T Cells to Attack

Parkinson's disease is a disorder that affects movement owing to the loss of dopamine producing cells in the part of the brain that deals with movement. Dopamine is useful for helping the brain to communicate. The new study also reveals that T cells can be triggered to initiate an attack by the immune system by the two fragments of alpha-synuclein.

MHC Linked with Immune Response

The researchers tested the blood samples of 67 patients with this disease and 36 samples from healthy patients by exposing the samples to fragments of proteins found in the cells of brain and fragments of alpha-synuclein. The results showed that T cells in the blood from patients suffering from Parkinson’s reacted strongly to the defined fragments from alpha-synuclein. However, the blood from the controls barely showed any reaction. Investigations have showed that a type of gene called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is linked with the immune response. This gene has been found in many patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.