A new study finds that too much calcium in the brain may cause Parkinson’s disease. There are more than 10 million people worldwide diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the way a person moves.
The new study published in the journal Nature Communications indicates that excess levels of calcium in the brain could lead to the development of toxic clusters that trigger Parkinson’s disease. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom conducted the study, according to Medical News Today.
The scientists found that calcium influences the way the alpha-synuclein hold together with synaptic vesicles, which stores the neurotransmitters that carry the signals between brain cells. Alpha-synuclein is a presynaptic neuronal protein with very little structure. This protein must interact with other proteins to become functional.
In the study, the researchers examined the behavior of alpha-synuclein using a super-resolution microscopy technique, and they isolated the synaptic vesicles. They discovered that when the level of calcium rises in the cells, the alpha-synuclein binds to vesicles at more than one point. This process causes the vesicles to cluster.
Dr. Amberley Stephens, a postdoctoral researcher in molecular neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and a co-author of the study, said that there is a delicate balance of calcium and alpha-synuclein in the cell. She further noted that when there is too much of one or the other, the balance is tipped and an aggregation begins that may lead to Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Janin Lautenschlager, another co-author of the study, said they observed that calcium influences the way alpha-synuclein merge with synaptic vesicles for the first time. The team thought that alpha-synuclein is almost like a calcium sensor. She further said that in the existence of calcium, it changes its structure and how it interacts with its environment, which is likely very important for its normal function, as noted by Tech Explorist.
Protein levels in spinal fluid correlate to posture and gait difficulty in Parkinson disease https://t.co/LO4pcZNadv— MedLink Neurology (@MedLinkNeurol) February 22, 2018
The study could help in understanding the alpha-synuclein in physiological or neurotic procedures. The results could lead to the development of new medications for Parkinson’s disease. It could also aid the scientists in understanding how and why people acquire Parkinson’s disease.