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Unwanted Angiogenesis Could Explain Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Unwanted Angiogenesis Could Explain Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

New research suggests that symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease – including intractable walking and trouble with balance – could be attributed to the formation of unwanted blood vessels – called angiogenesis – in the brain. Despite the use of adequate medication – including dopamine therapy – many patients with Parkinson’s disease eventually experience some symptoms associated with impaired motor skills.

The most current research was conducted at Lund University in Sweden. The results are in agreement with other similar research studies, which used brain tissue from deceased patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“The strength of our study is the number of participants, and the fact that they are alive,” said Oskar Hansson, a researcher at Lund University and consultant at Skåne University Hospital. “Because many suffer from several parallel diseases at the final stage of their lives, it is difficult to analyze samples from deceased persons.”

The researcher say they identified the link between inappropriate angiogenesis and Parkinson’s disease symptoms when they made the decisions to take a broader approach to study the mechanisms behind the disease. Their findings were published in the journal, Neurology.

“The measurements showed clear connections between markers of angiogenesis in the brain and walking or balance difficulties among the participants,” said Hansson. “We also noted an increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, which leads to blood components potentially leaking into the brain and causing damage.”

The first study conducted by the researchers involved 100 participants with Parkinson’s disease and 38 healthy control volunteers. Levels of multiple proteins that are known biomarkers for angiogenesis were measured samples of cerebrospinal fluid taken from the participants.

Levels of proteins associated with blood vessel formation were found to be elevated in the Parkinson’s disease patients, when compare to the healthy controls. To confirm the results, two additional studies were conducted using approximately the same number of participants.

“Medication for angiogenesis already exists. If we can confirm our results in further studies, these drugs can be tested on Parkinson’s patients in the future,” said Hansson. Before drugs for angiogenesis can be tested on patients in a clinical trial, Hansson said they will perform animal studies. The hope is that the drugs’ efficacy will be determined and a selection of the most promising drugs will be identified.