The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a loss of nerve cells (dopaminergic cells) in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra (literally means “black substance”). The dopaminergic cells are responsible for producing dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter; it helps transmit messages from the brain that control and coordinate body movements - dopamine allows the substantia nigra and another area of the brain, the corpus striatum to communicate; this communication coordinates proper muscle movement.
If the Dopaminergic cells in the brain are damage or perish, dopamine production goes down and the messages from the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum do not work properly. Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms appear when four-fifths of these nerve cells are lost. As dopamine levels continue to drop, the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease get worse.
- Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration or destruction of dopamine-producing nerve cells (dopaminergic cells), which in turn makes it harder for the brain to control and coordinate muscle movement.
Experts are not sure why the nerve cells that cause Parkinson’s disease become damaged or die.
Genetic mutations linked to brain cell death - scientists at the University of Cambridge and University College London found that genetic mutations undermine the natural process of getting rid of faulty mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They take in nutrients, break them down, and create energy for the cell.
When mitochondria are faulty they need to be eliminated. The scientists found that defects in the Parkinson’s gene “Fbxo7” disrupt the process of faulty mitochondrial elimination.
The researchers believe that medications that target mitophagy - the elimination of faulty mitochondria - may one help treat or possibly prevent Parkinson’s disease.