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Northwestern MedicineNewly Discovered Trigger of Parkinson’s Upends Common Beliefs

Dysfunction in Neuron’s Synapses: A New Perspective on Parkinson’s Trigger

A groundbreaking study from Northwestern Medicine has challenged the widely accepted belief about the trigger of Parkinson’s disease. The research suggests that the dysfunction in the neuron’s synapses precedes the neurodegeneration and leads to deficits in dopamine, contrary to the common belief that degeneration of dopaminergic neurons is the first event that leads to Parkinson’s.

Key Points

  • The study suggests that a dysfunction in the neuron’s synapses precedes the neurodegeneration.
  • This dysfunction leads to deficits in dopamine.
  • Parkinson’s disease affects 1% to 2% of the population.
  • The study opens a new avenue for therapies.
  • Northwestern scientists found that dopaminergic synapses are not functioning correctly in various genetic forms of Parkinson’s disease.

“We showed that dopaminergic synapses become dysfunctional before neuronal death occurs. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that targeting dysfunctional synapses before the neurons are degenerated may represent a better therapeutic strategy.”
— Dimitri Krainc, MD, PhD, chair of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Simpson Querrey Center for Neurogenetics

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