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Parallel brainstem circuit discovery suggests new path in Parkinson's research
Date:5/19/2010

action can be a very long time.

The researchers discovered the actual brain neurotransmitter that activates muscarine receptors -- another chemical, acetylcholine -- sends a signal to these newly discovered brainstem neurons, switching them on for the lengthy minute or so durations.

Alford said the finding opens up new insights into animal locomotion.

"It's a system for turning on your locomotor system and making you walk or run in a very coordinated, straight-line fashion sustaining locomotion for a considerable time," he said. "This simply was not known to exist before we discovered it."

The role of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine may ultimately suggest new Parkinson's disease treatments. While a key Parkinson's symptom is tremor, an advanced stage symptom is the inability to start a movement, such as walking. Symptoms associated with Parkinson's can be helped by reducing acetylcholine-mediated neurotransmission in the brain, but little work has focused on brainstem muscarine receptors in this disease.

"This may be a backdoor finding into a secondary effect of Parkinson's disease that's not well studied because most research emphasis has been on dopamine and the basal ganglia, a different neurotransmitter and region of the brain," Alford said.


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Contact: Paul Francuch
francuch@uic.edu
312-996-3457
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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