Breaking News
September 26, 2018 - Fewer American Teens Having Sex, Most Using Birth Control
September 26, 2018 - We are predisposed to forgive, new research suggests
September 26, 2018 - Insomnia Exacts Heavy Toll on Quality of Life
September 26, 2018 - Clinical study shows efficacy, safety of novel drug-eluting stent with improved radiographic visibility
September 26, 2018 - Cytox, AIBL announce expanded agreement to assess genetic risk for Alzheimer’s
September 26, 2018 - Study finds persistent rate of lawnmower injury-related emergency department visits
September 26, 2018 - Researchers find molecule that halts, reverts neurodegeneration caused by Parkinson’s disease
September 26, 2018 - Novartis announces winners of 2018 eXcellence in Ophthalmology Vision Award
September 26, 2018 - New spinout company to tackle drug-resistant infections with novel antibiotics
September 26, 2018 - In depression the brain region for stress control is larger
September 26, 2018 - Smuggling RNA into cells can activate the immune system to fight cancer
September 26, 2018 - Special Focus Issue takes wide view of complementary and integrative medicine in cancer
September 26, 2018 - Researchers now confirm that genome duplication drives evolution of species
September 25, 2018 - Study provides evidence of beta lactamase producing, antimicrobial resistant E. coli in U.S. retail meat
September 25, 2018 - UCI study finds new cause of cerebral microbleeds
September 25, 2018 - Researchers propose mechanism by which ASTN2 protein defects lead to brain disorders
September 25, 2018 - Chinese and German researchers to cooperate more closely in future for better food
September 25, 2018 - Recent study helps predict probability of pregnant mothers to have child with autism
September 25, 2018 - New online, sound matching tool offers tinnitus sufferers potential treatment options
September 25, 2018 - UC Davis researchers take critical step in developing more effective Salmonella vaccine
September 25, 2018 - Antibiotics best paediatric treatment for children’s chronic wet cough
September 25, 2018 - Looking beyond opioids: Stanford pain psychologist briefs Congress
September 25, 2018 - Organs actively fighting back against autoimmune diseases, finds study
September 25, 2018 - Lancaster professor aims to understand how genes affect smoking cessation
September 25, 2018 - Human-oriented perspective needed to better understand Parkinson’s disease
September 25, 2018 - Physical activity may have beneficial effects for people with rare Alzheimer’s disease
September 25, 2018 - FDA Updates on Valsartan Recalls
September 25, 2018 - 3-D-printed tracheal splints used in groundbreaking pediatric surgery
September 25, 2018 - Who is the designated driver, or proxy, for your health decisions?
September 25, 2018 - New chemo-optogenetic method enables multi-directional activity control of cellular processes
September 25, 2018 - Study explores link between genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s and cardiometabolic risk factors
September 25, 2018 - NeoTract presents new clinical data from studies of UroLift System for patients with BPH
September 25, 2018 - Patients with paralysis manage to walk thanks to new technology
September 25, 2018 - Statins Improve Long-Term Survival After AAA Repair
September 25, 2018 - Novel brain network linked to chronic pain in Parkinson’s disease
September 25, 2018 - Researchers reassess negative pressure wound therapy as its benefit and harm remain unclear
September 25, 2018 - Older adults with ‘fall plan of care’ less likely to suffer fall-related hospitalizations
September 25, 2018 - FDA lifts partial clinical hold that paused enrollment of new patients in tazemetosta clinical trials
September 25, 2018 - IME Medical Electrospinning establishes state-of-the-art manufacturing lab facilities
September 25, 2018 - Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of entrectinib drug in ROS1-positive NSCLC show promising results
September 25, 2018 - How to Protect Your Eyesight
September 25, 2018 - Novel approach allows researchers to define how cells in the retina respond to diabetes
September 25, 2018 - Columbia University announces winners of 2018 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
September 25, 2018 - New model enables anyone to run powerful simulations, complex calculations easily
September 25, 2018 - Clinical trial investigators found non-compliant with requirement to report results on EU register
September 25, 2018 - Study analyzes quality of protein supplements in function of source, treatment and storage
September 25, 2018 - FDA grants Orphan Drug Designation to Myelo001 for treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome
September 25, 2018 - U.S. Alzheimer’s Cases to Nearly Triple by 2060
September 25, 2018 - Improving cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease
September 25, 2018 - Genervon reports new findings that drug candidate GM6 attenuates Alzheimer’s disease in mice model
September 25, 2018 - FDA approves new 5 mm diameter drug-eluting stent from Cook Medical
September 25, 2018 - New $17.8 million grant ensures USC at forefront of research on tobacco-related health risks
September 25, 2018 - Researchers analyze response to combination immunotherapy for patients with rare skin cancer
September 25, 2018 - Study sheds light on how brain protein may be involved neurodevelopmental disorders
September 25, 2018 - Where to draw the line on incentives
September 25, 2018 - Solid fuel use linked with increased risk of hospitalization or death from respiratory diseases
September 25, 2018 - ‘Trouble Brewing’ report highlights steps that governments can take to reduce alcohol-related harms
September 25, 2018 - Recurrence risk of VTE appears similar for patients with cancer and those with unprovoked VTE
September 25, 2018 - Global leaders must make bold commitments at first-ever UN tuberculosis summit
September 25, 2018 - Brief sleep intervention works long-term to prevent child obesity
September 25, 2018 - Vaping among kids and teens a growing concern
September 25, 2018 - Public launch of products and application solutions from Porvair Laboratory Division
September 25, 2018 - Harmful H. pylori may play a role in Parkinson’s disease
September 25, 2018 - Researchers develop way to measure different types of fear of falling in patients with Parkinson’s
September 25, 2018 - Fracture causes bone density losses throughout the body
September 25, 2018 - Researchers highlight potential therapy for treating rare, deadly blood-clotting disorder
September 25, 2018 - Hybrid theranostic complex shows high therapeutic efficacy against tumor cells
September 25, 2018 - FDA Issues Statement Reaffirming the Positive Benefit-Risk Profile of Nuplazid (pimavanserin) for Patients with Hallucinations and Delusions Associated with Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
September 25, 2018 - Toxicological evaluation and dosimetry estimation of potential PET radiotracer
September 25, 2018 - 5 obstacles parents commonly face in child obesity treatment and how to overcome them
September 25, 2018 - Immunologist to study how Chikungunya causes devastating effects in older adults
September 25, 2018 - Rural borderland communities vulnerable to high stress impacting mental and physical health
September 25, 2018 - SNMMI announces recipients of 2018-2020 Wagner-Torizuka Fellowship
September 25, 2018 - Common painkiller not effective in controlling chronic pain after traumatic nerve injury
September 25, 2018 - New therapeutic vaccine helps immune cells fight HPV-related head and neck cancer
September 25, 2018 - Environmentally-induced gene activity influences IQ test performance
September 25, 2018 - Biogen and Eisai announce results of LTE Phase 1b study of aducanumab for treating MCI
September 25, 2018 - FDA Approves Copiktra (duvelisib) Capsules for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma and Follicular Lymphoma
September 25, 2018 - Medical device company settles US case over false claims
September 25, 2018 - Trying to get answers: One woman’s quest for a diagnosis
Calcium may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease

Calcium may play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Tyrosine hydroxylase positive neuron stained with a synaptic marker. Credit: Janin Lautenschläger

Researchers have found that excess levels of calcium in brain cells may lead to the formation of toxic clusters that are the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

The international team, led by the University of Cambridge, found that calcium can mediate the interaction between small membranous structures inside nerve endings, which are important for neuronal signalling in the brain, and alpha-synuclein, the protein associated with Parkinson’s disease. Excess levels of either calcium or alpha-synuclein may be what starts the chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Communications, represent another step towards understanding how and why people develop Parkinson’s. According to the charity Parkinson’s UK, one in every 350 adults in the UK – an estimated 145,000 in all – currently has the condition, but as yet it remains incurable.

Parkinson’s disease is one of a number of neurodegenerative diseases caused when naturally occurring proteins fold into the wrong shape and stick together with other proteins, eventually forming thin filament-like structures called amyloid fibrils. These amyloid deposits of aggregated alpha-synuclein, also known as Lewy bodies, are the sign of Parkinson’s disease.

Curiously, it hasn’t been clear until now what alpha-synuclein actually does in the cell: why it’s there and what it’s meant to do. It is implicated in various processes, such as the smooth flow of chemical signals in the brain and the movement of molecules in and out of nerve endings, but exactly how it behaves is unclear.

“Alpha-synuclein is a very small protein with very little structure, and it needs to interact with other proteins or structures in order to become functional, which has made it difficult to study,” said senior author Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle from Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

Thanks to super-resolution microscopy techniques, it is now possible to look inside cells to observe the behaviour of alpha-synuclein. To do so, Kaminski Schierle and her colleagues isolated synaptic vesicles, part of the nerve cells that store the neurotransmitters which send signals from one nerve cell to another.

In neurons, calcium plays a role in the release of neurotransmitters. The researchers observed that when calcium levels in the nerve cell increase, such as upon neuronal signalling, the alpha-synuclein binds to synaptic vesicles at multiple points causing the vesicles to come together. This may indicate that the normal role of alpha-synuclein is to help the chemical transmission of information across nerve cells.

“This is the first time we’ve seen that calcium influences the way alpha-synuclein interacts with synaptic vesicles,” said Dr Janin Lautenschl?ger, the paper’s first author. “We think that alpha-synuclein is almost like a calcium sensor. In the presence of calcium, it changes its structure and how it interacts with its environment, which is likely very important for its normal function.”

“There is a fine balance of calcium and alpha-synuclein in the cell, and when there is too much of one or the other, the balance is tipped and aggregation begins, leading to Parkinson’s disease,” said co-first author Dr Amberley Stephens.

The imbalance can be caused by a genetic doubling of the amount of alpha-synuclein (gene duplication), by an age-related slowing of the breakdown of excess protein, by an increased level of calcium in neurons that are sensitive to Parkinson’s, or an associated lack of calcium buffering capacity in these neurons.

Understanding the role of alpha-synuclein in physiological or pathological processes may aid in the development of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease. One possibility is that drug candidates developed to block calcium, for use in heart disease for instance, might also have potential against Parkinson’s disease.


Explore further:
Tug of war between Parkinson’s protein and growth factor

More information:
Janin Lautenschläger et al, C-terminal calcium binding of α-synuclein modulates synaptic vesicle interaction, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03111-4

Journal reference:
Nature Communications

Provided by:
University of Cambridge

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles