In a hopeful note, treating dopamine-producing nerve cells with antioxidants lessened damage
The brain chemical missing in Parkinson’s disease may have a hand in its own death. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps keep body movements fluid, can kick off a toxic chain reaction that ultimately kills the nerve cells that make it, a new study suggests.
By studying lab dishes of human nerve cells, or neurons, derived from Parkinson’s patients, researchers found that a harmful form of dopamine can inflict damage on cells in multiple ways. The result, published online September 7 in Science, “brings multiple pieces of the puzzle together,” says neuroscientist Teresa Hastings of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The finding also hints at a potential treatment for the estimated 10 million people worldwide with Parkinson’s: Less cellular damage occurred when some of the neurons were treated early on with antioxidants, molecules that