MAY 24, 2018 12:48 AM PDT

The Link Between Tuberculosis and Parkinson Disease

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

There might be a link between Tuberculosis (TB) and Parkinson’s according to a study published in The EMBO Journal. This link is related to the mechanism behind how our immune system eradicates bacterial infections. More specifically, the study concluded that the mechanism is the same for Tuberculosis and Parkinson.

The findings, which will be published in The EMBO Journal, provide a possible explanation of the cause of Parkinson's disease and suggest that drugs designed to treat Parkinson's might work for TB too.

For Parkinson's disease, the most common genetic mutation occurs on the LRRK2, which allows the LRRK2 protein overactive. By examining the function of LRRK2 in immune cells known as macrophages that are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that leads to TB.

Using a combination of experimental approaches, Crick and GSK researchers, in collaboration with Matthias Trost, a proteomics specialist, from Newcastle University, discovered that LRRK2 inhibits phagosomes from fusing with lysosomes, decreasing their efficacy at clearing bacteria. Deletion of the LRRK2 gene or cell treatment using LRRK2 blockers might significantly reduce the levels of Mtb, treating TB. "We think that this mechanism might also be at play in Parkinson's disease, where abnormal masses of protein called 'Lewy bodies' build up in neurons in the brain and cause damage," explains Susanne Herbst, the first author of the study and post-doctoral fellow at the Crick.

Investigators suspect that LRRK2 might inhibit immune cells in the brain from degrading causing a build-up of protein in neurons that disrupts their neuronal function. "By studying TB, we have found a possible explanation for why LRRK2 mutations are a genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease. It's exciting when different fields of research connect up in unexpected ways like this!" notes Susanne.

The findings also suggest that LRRK2 inhibitors could be a powerful new way for TB treatment. "LRRK2 inhibiting drugs are already being developed to treat Parkinson's disease and we're trying to see if we can repurpose them as a potential new TB therapy. This should be relatively straightforward because TB infects the lungs, so the LRRK2 inhibitors wouldn't need to cross the blood-brain barrier like they do in Parkinson's disease."

Sources: Crick

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
AUG 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
AUG 17, 2019
How Neutrophils are Involved in Gallstone Formation
Gallstones form in the gallbladder, and can be as tiny as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball....
AUG 04, 2019
Immunology
AUG 04, 2019
New Research In Reversing Deafness
Hair cells inside the human ear are responsible for sensing and relaying sound to the brain.  In all mammals except humans, these cells can regenerate...
OCT 29, 2019
Microbiology
OCT 29, 2019
Antibody Discovered That May be the Key to a Universal Flu Vaccine
Instead of designing a new flu vaccine every year, researchers have made a breakthrough that may lead to a single vaccine that protects against all strains....
NOV 19, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 19, 2019
Ketogenic Diet Appears to Help Protect Against the Flu
The ketogenic diet forces the body to use stored fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates; the fat gets broken down into ketone bodies....
DEC 04, 2019
Neuroscience
DEC 04, 2019
Antibiotic Usage May Cause Parkinson's, Study Finds
A study from Helsinki University Hospital, Finland suggests that excessive usage of certain antibiotics may increase one’s risk of developing Parkins...
DEC 16, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 16, 2019
Drug Targets Against The Nipah Virus
The Nipah virus, first identified in 1998 and is transmitted from pigs and bats, has resulted in a high mortality rate killing more than half of all infect...
Loading Comments...