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Parkinson’s disease and dementia may have an impact on the brain due to nanoplastics.

Parkinson’s disease and dementia may have an impact on the brain due to nanoplastics.

Scientists at Duke University School of Medicine have discovered that nanoplastics alter a particular protein in the brain, which results in alterations connected to dementias other than Parkinson’s. Worldwide, Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million individuals. Scientists are aware that a person’s lifestyle, genetics, and environment all contribute to the development of disease. Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine discovered that a particular protein in the brain is impacted by nanoplastics, which are minuscule plastic particles that break down in the environment and can seep into soil and water. These changes have been connected to Parkinson’s disease and other forms of dementia. Science Advances, a journal, published the study recently. Parkinson’s disease is thought to be the neurological ailment with the fastest global growth rate. According to research, the condition affects over 10 million people worldwide. For now, there is no treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Although the exact cause of the illness is still unknown, scientists do know that genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors all have an impact.

Parkinson’s disease is not usually heritable or transmissible, according to Dr. Andrew West, professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine and the study’s principal investigator. Environmental exposure to toxins and pesticides is thought to be a contributing factor in the disease’s risk. Dr. West told Medical News Today, However, the known environmental risks account for a very small percentage of what may be lurking out there, increasing our risk of getting sick. Once we have determined that there is a real risk of disease or that the disease will progress due to environmental factors, we can take precautions to reduce that risk. Mr. According to West, he and his colleagues first used various kinds of nanoparticles to help with biomarker assays for dementia and Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. By coincidence, they discovered that a protein called alpha-synuclein, which has been connected to brain disorders, could be greatly inhibited by some forms of nanoparticles.

In this study, three test tube models, cultured neurons, and a Parkinson’s disease-modeling mouse were utilized by the researchers. Dr. West and his colleagues discovered that the alpha-synuclein protein is drawn to and accumulates in response to nanoparticles of the plastic polystyrene used to make foam packing peanuts, egg cartons, and disposable drinking cups. Dr. West said, We discovered through various assays that nanoplastics may sever portions of the alpha-synuclein protein, which typically binds to lipids in the brain, and twist the protein into a form that may encourage aggregation associated with disease.. But the issues don’t end there; the plastics may also damage the machinery that is meant to break down aggregates, which are part of the lysosome, a component of the cell. Dr. West continued, We believe the interactions we observed in the model are driven by this ‘two-hit’ mechanism.

Microplastics are the first tiny particles formed when plastic degrades in the environment. After that, the microplastics keep breaking down to create new ones. According to a March 2022 study, people’s gastrointestinal tracts absorb roughly 5 grams of microplastic and nanoplastic per week on average. The general health of an individual may be harmed by both microplastics and nanoplastics, according to earlier research. For instance, studies have shown that nanoplastics may be connected to specific cancer types and can also interfere with the normal functions of lung and liver cells. Furthermore, there has previously been research on the connection between brain health and nanoplastics. According to studies that were released in June 2020, the brain can be adversely affected by micro- and nanoplastic exposure, which increases the risk of neuronal disorders. According to a study that was released in April 2023, mice that consumed nanoplastics had lower short-term memory and cognitive function.

According to Dr. West, these findings strongly suggest that technology should be developed to track the build-up of plastic pollution in the human brain and to track the susceptibility of various individuals to Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders based on their individual exposures. We could create laws and technological solutions to ensure that harmful nanoplastic actors stay out of our food and water if we understood the precise molecular makeup of these individuals. As for the research’s next steps, Dr. West stated that they hope to conduct longer-term studies using chronic dosing to find out how various nanoplastic kinds impact various molecular processes that are thought to be responsible for disease risk and progression. In order to make our lab models more informative, he continued, we also need to have a better idea of what lifetime exposures to different types of nanoplastics look like.. MNT also discussed this study with Dr. Rocco DiPaola, a neurologist who oversees the Movement Disorder Program at Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute.

According to Dr. DiPaola, this study could add to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease and other disorders linked to alpha-synuclein. It has long been believed that a major contributing factor to the development of these disorders is a combination of genetic factors and an environmental trigger. It is an additional possible cause of these illnesses. When asked how readers can protect themselves from environmental factors that may increase their risk for Parkinson’s disease and other types of dementia, Dr. DiPaola said that while there is no way to mitigate all risks, limiting exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, would be one way to limit risk. Environmental factors are likely one of many factors that play a major role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. He continued, Previous environmental studies have found increased risk with exposure to well water, growing up in a rural area, and pesticide exposure.


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Tai chi help slow the progression of Parkinson’s

Tai chi help slow the progression of Parkinson’s

According to a recent study, tai chi may benefit Parkinson’s disease sufferers. Parkinson’s disease has no known cure, and although current treatments reduce symptoms, they don’t seem to stop the disease’s progression. Parkinson’s disease patients can benefit from physical treatment that teaches their brains to compensate for lost mobility. This helps improve their gait and balance. According to recent studies, practicing tai chi, a Chinese martial art that entails a sequence of slow motions and postures, may help reduce Parkinson’s disease symptoms and decrease the disease’s progression.

The research, which was published on October 24 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, discovered that tai chi practitioners with Parkinson’s disease experienced a slower deterioration in cognitive function than non-practitioners. Parkinson’s disease has no known cure, and although current treatments reduce symptoms, they don’t seem to stop the disease’s progression. According to the researchers, regular exercise, such as tai chi, may help manage symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. Dr. Molly Cincotta, a neurologist at Temple University Hospital and assistant professor of clinical neurology at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, claims that previous research indicates exercise is one of the only interventions that appears to reduce the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s patients’ gait and balance can also be enhanced by physical treatment that teaches brain regions to compensate for lost movement.

Beginning in January 2016, researchers recruited 330 Parkinson’s disease patients to learn how tai chi affects the disease’s symptoms and complications. For the study, the average observation period was 4.3 years. The participants were divided into two groups: 143 engaged in one-hour, twice-weekly tai chi practice, and 187 got normal medical care without engaging in any tai chi exercises. All patients had their disease progression evaluated by the research team at the beginning of the study, and then again in November 2019, October 2020, and June 2021. They examined the degree of mobility, mood, sleep quality, and cognitive abilities of the subjects as well as the autonomic nervous system’s performance (including bowel and urine movements).

The group who practiced tai chi showed slower illness progression, according to the team’s findings. Tai chi practitioners reported better sleep, balance, and cognitive function as well as fewer difficulties. For instance, compared to 7.5% of individuals who did not practice tai chi, 1.4% of those in the tai chi group exhibited dyskinesia. Moreover, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was observed in 2.8% of tai chi practitioners as opposed to 9.6% in the non-tai chi group. Additionally, those who did not practice tai chi used more medications. Compared to 71% of those who consistently practiced Tai Chi, over 83% of people who did not practice the art needed to increase their prescription in 2019. Compared to 87% of individuals who practiced tai chi, over 96% of those who did not practice the kind of meditation required a higher dosage in 2020.

“In patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, this study suggests that regular [tai chi] practice may be beneficial for motor function, sleep, cognition, and overall quality of life,” stated Cincotta. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition primarily marked by the death of brain cells that generate dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for mood regulation, thought processes, and motor function, among other bodily processes. It’s like trying to drive with the parking brake on when these cells are gone and the brain has less dopamine. Although movement is possible, it is frequently jerky, stiff, and slow, according to Cincotta. According to Cincotta, a deficiency in dopamine can eventually result in tremors, changed facial expressions, a shuffling gait, anxiety, despair, or indifference.

Increased inflammation may also be a result of the disease, and research indicates that the more inflammatory chemicals the body produces, the more severe the symptoms usually are. The primary treatment for Parkinson’s disease is medication. These medications, which work by increasing low dopamine levels, alleviate symptoms but don’t seem to have a major effect on the course of the illness. Furthermore, some medications may become less effective as the illness progresses.

The University of Miami Health System’s chief of the Division of Movement Disorders, Dr. Ihtsham ul Haq, asserts that the only approach to delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease is through exercise. He stated, “Tai chi is a great way to get this benefit, but it’s definitely not the only way.” Scientists are trying to figure out why exercise affects Parkinson’s disease in this way. According to Haq, frequent exercise may alter cellular processes including protein aggregation and mitochondrial function, as well as enhance cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation. Cincotta continued, “Tai chi in particular may support people in maintaining their social connections, which has a positive effect on cognition.”

Haq asserts that it’s difficult to say whether one form of exercise is superior than another. People with Parkinson’s disease should exercise in any way they find rewarding as often as it is convenient for them, according to Haq, as no limit has been identified to the effect. According to recent studies, tai chi may lessen Parkinson’s disease symptoms and delay the disease’s progression. Parkinson’s disease is mostly treated with medication; however, the medications now on the market don’t seem to slow the disease’s progression. Numerous studies indicate that the only intervention that appears to be effective in delaying the course of disease is exercise, such as tai chi.


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