There are very many neurodegenerative disorders that we humans have to battle with. Some of these neurodegenerative disorders are inflammatory. Inflammation is a common feature in some neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and multiple sclerosis. Microglial cells, the resident macrophages of the central nervous system, become chronically activated and mediate pathology inducing inflammatory responses. This inflammation may be initiated as an immune response and while it does not cause the disease, it has been shown to aggravate the progression of the inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases. Contrary to what many people think, inflammation does not initiate neurodegenerative disease but there is evidence that chronic inflammation involving microglia and astrocytes contribute to disease progression. The inflammatory response has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and MS. Currently, a major question is whether inhibition of the inflammatory response has the ability to reverse or slow the symptoms of disease.
Typically, inflammation is a defense mechanism against diverse insults, designed to remove noxious agents and to inhibit their detrimental effects. It consists of an astounding range of molecular and cellular mechanisms and an intricate network of controls to keep them in check. In neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation may be triggered by the accumulation of proteins with abnormal conformations or by signals emanating from injured neurons. Given the multiple functions of many inflammatory factors, it has been difficult to pinpoint their roles in specific pathological situations. Studies of genetically modified mice and of molecular pathways in activated glia are beginning to shed light on this issue. Through different studies it has been found that altered expression of different inflammatory factors can either aggravate or counteract neurodegenerative processes. Normally, inflammation should be beneficial but for some reasons inflammation in neurodegenerative disorders can form grounds for aggravation of these neurodegenerative disorders and so a viable means of treatment that should suppress inflammation and inhibit progression of these disorders should be utilized to help in treatment of these inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. According to a new study, there are markers of inflammation in the cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain and spine from injury. This study linked these markers to symptoms like fatigue, depression and anxiety in patients with Parkinson’s disease and it is hoped that this discovery may make the treatment of this disease much easier.
This study was led by Lena Brundin who is an associate professor at the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. This research was carried out as part of a team from Lund University in Sweden, Skåne University Hospital in Sweden and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida. The team measured a number of inflammatory markers in fluid samples of patients with Parkinson’s and in a control group without the disease.
“The degree of neuroinflammation was significantly associated with more severe depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment even after controlling for factors such as age, gender and disease duration.” Prof. Brundin told the press.
However this is not the first study to link brain inflammation to Parkinson’s disease, there are previous studies that have linked it to non-motor symptoms like depression, fatigue and cognitive impairment. These past studies have indicated that inflammation in the brain could drive cell death, and drugs that target this process could offer new treatments to slow progression of the disease. For instance, a study published as far back as 2007 suggested that brain cell death in Parkinson’s may be reduced by blocking enzyme activity.
According to Prof. Brundin most of these previous studies looking at inflammatory markers in the cerebrospinal fluid of Parkinson’s patients have involved only small numbers of patients, often without comparing them to healthy controls. Despite this view, it is still evident that brain inflammation still has a role to play in aggravating neurodegenerative disorders.
Inflammation and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the Central Nervous System that is characterized by demyelination and inflammation. In a nutshell, MS is often described as an inflammatory demyelinating condition. Myelin is a layer of fatty that covers the nerves maintaining their health and flexibility. It is demyelination that causes spasms that are common with MS patients.
Owing to the ability of the stem cells to differentiate many times and form different body cells, they have been used in the past to regenerate or better yet to replace damaged cells in the body and this has made them a target for treatment of vey many conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders.
The stem cell therapy is now being used to grow dopamine producing nerve cells in laboratories to aid the treatment of this disease. The stem cells are majorly used in the labs when the genetic cause of the disease is known. The disease destroys cells but through stem cells therapy, the damaged cells can be replaced by healthy new cells of the same type. There are also researchers who have since done extensive work in applicability of stem cell therapy in treating PD. through research it has been shown that by releasing various kinds of noxious factors such as cytokines or proinflammatory molecules microglia may damage CNS cells. The stem cell therapy can be used to restore the parts of the nervous system that are destroyed as a result of release of cytokines in inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders.
Finally, Neurodegenerative disorders have debilitating effects on patients and should be fought by all means. This is why we at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center are committed to availing help to patients by availing integrative and safe treatment options to all our patients. In case you are troubled by any of these disorders, just call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) today and begin your journey to victory against neurodegenerative disorders