Parkinson's hope in hypertension drug

A drug used to treat hypertension could prevent progression of Parkinson's disease, suggest findings of a mouse study.

Blocking calcium channels with the drug isradipine (Prescal) could rejuvenate dopamine receptors, potentially slowing progression of early-stage Parkinson's disease, it found.

Dopamine-containing neurons inside the substantia nigra region of the brain are destroyed in Parkinson's patients, but the reason for this has been unknown.

But this US research suggests that the neurons rely on calcium channels to maintain their rhythmic activity. High levels of calcium in the channels of dopamine neurons could cause the neuronal damage seen in Parkinson's disease.

For the study, juvenile mice genetically engineered to develop Parkinson's were studied to see if dopaminergic neurons could be rejuvenated. The mice had a biodegradable pellet containing the calcium antagonist isradipine or placebo implanted under their skin for a week.

The mice were culled and brain slices taken. This revealed that dopamine neurons were protected from lethal toxins by isradipine but the naive neurons were not.

Another commonly used experimental model of Parkinson's in mice, based on injection of the toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), was then performed. MPTP works by crossing the blood- brain barrier before being taken up by the dopaminergic neurons, which it then destroys.

Healthy mice treated with isradipine or placebo were given repeated injections of MPTP over a period of five weeks.

Isradipine treatment was found to almost halve the number of dopaminergic neurons that were lost as a result of the toxin effects of MPTP, compared with the control mice.

They concluded that blocking calcium channels in adult neurons induced a more juvenile form of neural activity, forcing the neurons to use other ion channels and thereby protecting against the progression of Parkinson's.

Lead researcher Professor James Surmeier, from the department of physiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, said: 'These findings point to a potential therapeutic strategy that might protect against Parkinson's disease in humans, and possibly also broaden the therapeutic window for patients in the early stages of the disease.'

What do you think? Comment below or email healthcare.republic@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs who visit care homes face mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, government confirms

GPs who visit care homes face mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, government confirms

All people working in care homes - including GPs visiting patients - will be required...

Just one seat on each NHS integrated care system board will represent GPs

Just one seat on each NHS integrated care system board will represent GPs

Representatives of general practice will hold just one out of 10 seats in total on...

Dorset GP Dr Helena McKeown stands down as BMA chief officer

Dorset GP Dr Helena McKeown stands down as BMA chief officer

BMA chief officer and chair of the association's representative body Dr Helena McKeown...

NHS to set up £30m GP enhanced service for long COVID

NHS to set up £30m GP enhanced service for long COVID

NHS England is set to commission a £30m GP enhanced service for long COVID to boost...

Three quarters of GPs face 'mental distress' after working through pandemic, BMA warns

Three quarters of GPs face 'mental distress' after working through pandemic, BMA warns

Three quarters of GPs are facing 'mental distress' because factors such as heavy...

NHS operating procedure for primary care to remain until UK lifts all COVID-19 restrictions

NHS operating procedure for primary care to remain until UK lifts all COVID-19 restrictions

The NHS standard operating procedure (SOP) for primary care will remain in place...