A Cause of Parkinson’s Found

Until recently, our understanding of Parkinson’s disease has been quite limited, which has been apparent in the limited treatment options and management of this debilitating condition.

Our recent understanding has primarily revolved around the genetic factors responsible for familial cases, while the causative factors in the vast majority of patients remained unknown.

However, in a new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have unveiled new insights into the workings of the brain in Parkinson’s patients.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system, leading to symptoms such as difficulty walking, tremors, cognitive challenges, and, eventually, dementia.

By examining both human and mouse brains, researchers discovered that the damage to mitochondria in brain cells occurs and spreads when these cells have defects in anti-viral response genes.

“Small fragments of — actually DNA — from the mitochondria are released into the cell. When these fragments of damaged DNA are misplaced, they become toxic to the cell, prompting nerve cells to expel this toxic mitochondrial DNA,” Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas explains.

Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas envisions that this study marks the initial stride towards a better understanding of the disease, and the development of future treatments, diagnostics, and measurement of treatment efficacy for Parkinson’s disease.

She also expressed hope that “detecting the damaged mitochondrial DNA could serve as an early biomarker for disease development.”

Biomarkers are objective indicators of specific medical conditions observed in patients. While some biomarkers are common, such as blood pressure, body temperature and body mass index, others provide insights into particular diseases, like gene mutations in cancer or level of blood sugar for diabetes. Identifying a biomarker for Parkinson’s disease holds significant promise for enhancing future treatments.


Emilie Tresse, Joana Marturia-Navarro, Wei Qi Guinevere Sew, Marina Cisquella-Serra, Elham Jaberi, Lluis Riera-Ponsati, Natasha Fauerby, Erling Hu, Oliver Kretz, Susana Aznar, Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas. Mitochondrial DNA damage triggers spread of Parkinson’s disease-like pathology. Molecular Psychiatry, 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s41380-023-02251-4

University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. (2023, October 2). Researchers find a cause of Parkinson’s disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2023 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/10/231002124357.htm

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