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Fruit compound could treat Parkinson's disease

Thursday July 29th 2021

A compound found in fruit and herbs has the potential to prevent and treat Parkinson’s disease, scientists have reported.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, say their findings add to a growing body of evidence of the efficacy of farnesol.

They found the compound can prevent the loss of neurons that produce dopamine in the brains of mice by deactivating PARIS, a key protein involved in the disease's progression.

Writing in the latest edition of Science Translational Medicine, the team say that farnesol's ability to block PARIS could guide development of new Parkinson's disease interventions that specifically target this protein.

Dr Ted Dawson, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “Our experiments showed that farnesol both significantly prevented the loss of dopamine neurons and reversed behavioural deficits in mice, indicating its promise as a potential drug treatment to prevent Parkinson's disease.”

To study if farnesol could protect brains from the effects of PARIS accumulation, the researchers fed mice either a farnesol-supplemented diet or a regular mouse diet for one week.

They went on to administer pre-formed fibrils of alpha-synuclein, which is associated with the effects of Parkinson's disease in the brain. They found that mice fed the farnesol diet performed better on a strength and co-ordination test designed to detect advancement of Parkinson's disease symptoms.

On average, the mice performed 100% better than mice injected with alpha-synuclein but fed a regular diet.

When the mice’s brain tissue was examined, the researchers found those fed a farnesol-supplemented diet had twice as many healthy dopamine neurons than the mice that were not given the diet.

The farnesol-fed mice also had about 55% more PGC-1alpha in their brains than the untreated mice.

In chemical experiments, the researchers confirmed that farnesol binds to PARIS, changing the protein's shape so that it can no longer interfere with PGC-1alpha production.

The researchers say that because safe doses of farnesol for humans have not yet been determined, more research is needed.

Science Translational Medicine 28 July 2021


Tags: Brain & Neurology | Diet & Food | North America

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