Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative, chronic and slowly progressive disease that involves different motor, vegetative, behavioral and cognitive functions, which have consequences on the quality of life of those who suffer from it.
It occurs when the production of dopamine in the brain decreases due to the degeneration of neurons in an area called “black substance”. From the marrow to the brain, accumulations of a protein called “alpha-synuclein” also begin to appear, which according to some may be responsible for the spread of the disease throughout the brain.
The causes of this disease are not yet fully known, but it seems that there are several elements that contribute to its development. First of all, the genetic factor: mutations of some genes are associated with Parkinson’s disease and, about 20% of patients are familiar with the disease. Exposure to toxic substances such as pesticides, hydrocarbons-solvents and heavy metals (iron, zinc, copper) also appear relevant in the literature.
The development of the disease: new hypotheses
Recently published research in Science Translation Medicine also suggests a relationship between Parkinson’s disease and the appendix. Prof. Alberto Albanese, Professor of Neurology and Head of the Neurology Unit of Humanitas, talked about it in an interview on Radio 24. “It is a very interesting study because it proposes many clues that suggest that Parkinson’s disease starts right in the intestine,” explained the professor.
In the abdomen “altered proteins would be produced that can be transported through the nerves ‘backwards’, in retrograde reaching the brain and then spreading the disease from here”.
In particular, according to the research, “the hypothesis is that these altered proteins accumulate in the appendix and therefore those who have undergone an appendectomy would be less likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease,” concluded the professor.