Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition. It occurs when dopamine-producing brain cells stop working or die. Dopamine’s role in the body is to send messages between nerve cells or from nerve cells to muscle cells, affecting the body’s physical and mental functions.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s start gradually, and the disease worsens over time. Early symptoms include tremors in the hands, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Patients with Parkinson’s also experience difficulty with balance, and eventually, with speech, writing, and automatic muscle movement such as blinking.
While there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s, there are medications that patients can take to manage symptoms. Some symptoms are also relieved from surgery to regulate specific brain areas.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease experience a progressive decline in their ability to function, with treatments only offering some relief. The emergence of mesenchymal stem cell therapy as an option to reverse the damage and halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease is an exciting development.
What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?
Stem cells are considered to be the building blocks of cells. All specialized cells in the body come from stem cells. When stem cells divide, they either produce more stem cells, called daughter cells, or differentiate into specialized cells, such as bone, blood, or brain cells.
MSCs are present throughout your life, but they age as the body ages, making them less effective and concentrated over time.
How Can Mesenchymal Stem Cells Benefit Those with Parkinson’s Disease?
In recent clinical trials using mesenchymal stem cells on Parkinson’s patients, the cells significantly improved patients’ symptoms, including facial expressions, gait, and rigidity or “freezing” episodes. Some of the patients in this study substantially reduced their dosages of medicines used to control Parkinson’s symptoms.
While the true potential of mesenchymal stem cell benefits in Parkinson’s patients is still being investigated, there is reason to believe that patients with the neurodegenerative condition could experience a significant improvement in their quality of life with stem cell therapy. If you are interested in learning more about Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, contact us today at Stemedix!
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects nearly 6 million people worldwide and is currently the second most common neurological condition, behind only Alzheimer’s.
Although the exact cause of PD remains unclear, the condition is characterized by the gradual loss of nerve cells in the brain responsible for producing the neurotransmitter dopamine. While no cure for PD currently exists, current therapeutic treatment approaches focus on improving quality of life but are not able to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
Recent research has demonstrated positive effects of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation that has been associated with secromes; noted beneficial effects include providing a self-regulated regenerative response that limits the area of lesions. Additionally, these MSC-derived secretomes compose soluble factors and encapsulated extravesicles (EV). These EVs have been found to have a significant impact on physiological processes, including cell-to-cell communication.
Considering MSCs are readily available and easily isolated from a number of sources, including adipose tissue, umbilical cord Wharton’s Jelly, bone marrow, and dental pulp, these stem cells are thought to hold potential as a therapeutic approach to managing PD.
As part of this review, d’Angelo et al. highlight a number of studies demonstrating the potential of MSCs in improving a number of conditions and symptoms consistent with those demonstrated in PD. In these studies, animal models demonstrate improved motor behaviors and correction of functional impairment after transplantation of MSCs.
The authors point out that further research exploring cell-free, therapeutic, personalized approaches for the different neurodegenerative diseases, including PD, is needed.
d’Angelo et al. also note that, while MSC-derived secretomes have shown positive effects on neuronal cell survival, differentiation, and proliferation, further studies are needed to fully understand all of the bioactive molecules.
Since MSC-derived secretomes are able to stimulate neurotrophic and neuronal survival pathways and appear to counteract neuronal death, they could potentially be a beneficial tool in future management and prevention efforts for a number of neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.
Receiving a diagnosis of any chronic condition can be overwhelming, and Parkinson’s disease (PD) is certainly no exception. While it’s normal to feel a range of emotions after you’re first diagnosed, you might also feel a sense of relief to have a concrete diagnosis. And, with an accurate diagnosis, you can also begin your pursuit of a comprehensive PD management plan, which begins with the following steps.
Team Up with a Specialist
First and foremost, you’ll want to seek out a medical professional who specializes in movement disorders. These professionals focus on emerging treatments and can help you manage any persistent symptoms which aren’t responding to medications. You can still see your primary care provider, but these neurologists have extensive knowledge of Parkinson’s therapies and are well-worth researching.
Allow Time to Adjust
There are countless resources online to help you navigate the newly diagnosed phase, but don’t feel as if you have to learn everything right away. Give yourself time to process the news first. Then, consider joining online groups or local communities to learn more about PD management. The National Parkinson Foundation and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research are great resources to start with.
Share on Your Terms
In time, you’ll likely want to tell everyone in your close circle about your diagnosis. Telling colleagues about your PD can help squash rumors and may simplify matters such as adjusting your schedule for doctors’ appointments. You’ll also want to have ongoing conversations with your partner and children to keep them in the loop about how you’re feeling and what they can do to support you.
Research supports regular exercise for people with Parkinson’s Disease and even shows that physical activity can help improve PD symptoms. People who started exercising 2.5 hours a week earlier after their diagnosis experienced a slower decline than their peers, for instance. While there’s no precise formula for exercising for PD, experts suggest a routine that blends stretching, cardio, and strength.
It can be tempting to withdraw from activities and others after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Yet, mental and social wellness can decline when you disengage. To that end, you may want to consider staying in the workforce if you’re still active in your career. You should also continue pursuing the social activities you enjoy, and may even want to think about joining new clubs or programs. These outlets can help promote mental and emotional wellbeing. If you want to learn more about your options after being newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease then contact a care coordinator today!
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder for which there is no cure. The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include resting tremor, slowness of movement, shuffling gait, and “masked facies” (i.e. muted facial expressions). Over time, patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience cognitive problems such as memory loss, impaired judgment, and poor planning. Later in the illness, these cognitive symptoms may progress to a condition called Parkinson’s dementia. Patients may also develop depression, anxiety, pain syndrome, visual hallucinations, and sleep disturbances. The disease gets progressively worse until patients succumb from complications of the disease after about 10 years on average.
Current treatments for Parkinson’s disease are only able to reduce symptoms—no drug therapy can modify or stop the disease from progressing. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the destruction of brain cells in the substantia nigra; substantia nigra cells provide the neurotransmitter, dopamine, to various locations in the brain. Consequently, most standard treatments are designed to improve dopamine neurotransmissions such as levodopa, dopamine agonists, and MAO B inhibitors. Deep brain stimulation, a procedure in which electrodes are inserted deep within the brain, has helped reduced tremor. There are diet suggestions that may help symptoms or increase appetite.
Ideally, physicians would be able to treat the cause of Parkinson’s disease rather than simply control symptoms. Dr. Salem provides an interesting review of the potential uses of stem cells for Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, he argues that stem cell transplantation has the potential to replenish lost cells in Parkinson’s disease.
The first step, according to Dr. Salem, is to identify the appropriate type of stem cell for use in Parkinson’s disease. He reviews the main types, namely embryonic stem cells, neural stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and mesenchymal stem cells, discussing their pros and cons. The scientist provides a convincing case for why mesenchymal stem cells may be the best choice. For cell-based therapy, he writes, mesenchymal stem cells have two major effects: a trophic effect and the ability to differentiate into a broad spectrum of cells for the replenishment of lost cells.
Indeed, mesenchymal stem cells can be induced to become functional dopamine neurons, the very cells that are destroyed by Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, when mesenchymal stem cells are placed into the brains of mice or humans with Parkinson’s disease (or, in the case of mice, a model of the disease), most of the stem cells remained in the injection site for at least 10 weeks after transplantation. The stem cells increased neuronal plasticity (neurorescue), cell survival, dopamine levels, and the formation of new neuron progenitor cells (neurogenesis). At the same time, stem cells decreased inflammation, gliosis (a growth of non-neuronal brain cells called glia), and death signaling.
Of course, clinical trials will be needed to continue the study of the safety and efficacy of stem cell transplantation for Parkinson’s disease, but the chance of having a treatment that actually goes to the cause of the disease is an exciting possibility.
Reference: Salem NA (2019) Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease. Int J Stem Cell Res Ther. 6:062. doi.org/10.23937/2469-570X/1410062.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system condition which is diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year. The disease affects movement and occurs when nerve cells in the brain don’t produce enough of the brain chemical dopamine.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease experience the death of neurons involved with the movement, which may lead to symptoms such as tremors, mobility challenges, slow movement, muscle rigidity, and speech changes. Cell death may be partially caused by a mutation for the protein α-synuclein (αS). While the mutated protein tends to cluster in neurons, ultimately causing their death, the normal protein resists clumping.
Researchers are now investigating whether estrogen could help to protect these movement neurons against clumping in people with PD.
Parkinson’s disease is most commonly seen in men and postmenopausal women, both of whom have low estrogen levels. While researchers still aren’t sure precisely how estrogen may act as a protective agent to safeguard movement neurons, studies have shown that brain-selective estrogen improved PD symptoms in mice. In the studies, the mice treated with estrogen therapy showed a higher rate of surviving neurons, as well as benefits in motor performance. It’s therefore suspected that estrogen treatment could be an effective therapy for delaying and reducing symptoms.
The exact causes of Parkinson’s disease are still being researched. While the condition can be genetic, most cases do not appear to run in families. As with many conditions, experts believe that environmental factors, including exposure to chemicals, could contribute to the disease. While there is still further research to be done both on the disease in general and the potential benefits of estrogen therapy, these most recent findings suggest that estrogen could hold promise as an emerging treatment for men and menopausal women with Parkinson’s disease.
For some time now, gut health has been suspected to play a key role in chronic conditions. We now know that there is significant interaction between the body’s immune system and bacteria in the intestinal tract, and researchers have become increasingly interested in how the immune system ties into conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). But how do these factors all connect?
The Potential Role of Gut Infections in Parkinson’s Disease
Emerging research suggests Parkinson’s disease could have an autoimmune component. Autoimmune conditions occur when the body’s immune system confuses healthy cells for pathogens and sets out to destroy them. A small percentage of PD cases are caused by mutations in genes that code for the proteins PINK1 and Parkin, which help clear out damaged mitochondria. Individuals with these mutations are more likely to develop PD before the age of 50.
Yet, when scientists removed PINK1 and Parkin from mice in a recent study, thereby giving them the same mutations linked to Parkinson’s disease in humans, they did not develop the disease. The research team theorized that factors other than these genetic mutations alone would likely be required for PD to develop. In particular, they believed exposure to specific germs could trigger Parkinson’s disease in individuals with this mutation.
To test this theory, the mice were exposed to E. coli. As the researchers suspected, they experienced PD-like symptoms later in life, along with a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain. This suggests that in individuals with certain genetic mutations, gut infections can trigger an immune system response which targets healthy cells.
What the Findings Mean
This research has also led scientists to the conclusion that in people without functioning PINK1 and Parkin, intestinal infections can trigger PD, thereby demonstrating a clear gut-brain connection in the disease. While this doesn’t suggest that all PD cases are autoimmune, it does pose the theory that there could be an immune system element in some cases. Although the mystery surrounding Parkinson’s disease still remains, this discovery points to an interplay between the gut, genetics, and brain, which may ultimately pave the way for further developments in the realm of treatment.
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