Defects in Blood-Brain Barrier Appear to Underlie Progression of Parkinson’s Disease, Georgetown Study Suggests

In an unexpected discovery, Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have identified what appears to be a significant vascular defect in patients with moderately severe Parkinson’s disease. The finding could help explain an earlier outcome of the same study, in which the drug nilotinib was able to halt motor and non-motor (cognition and quality of life) decline in the long term. The researchers say their finding, detailed in a study published online on November 12, 2021, in Neurology Genetics, suggests that blood vessel walls called the blood-brain barrier, which normally act as a crucial filter to protect the brain against toxins, as well as to allow passage of nutrients to nourish it, doesn’t work correctly in some Parkinson’s patients. Instead, it prohibits toxins from leaving the brain and inhibits nutrients such as glucose from entering. Perhaps even more damaging, the dysfunctional barrier allows inflammatory cells and molecules from the body to enter and damage the brain. The open-access article is titled “CSF MicroRNAs Reveal Impairment of Angiogenesis and Autophagy in Parkinson Disease.”

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