ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2008) — Parkinson disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impairs movement, balance, speech, and other functions. It is characterized by the loss of nerves in the brain that produce a substance known as dopamine. Although the loss of dopamine-containing nerves is accompanied by accumulation of immune cells known as T cells, these accumulating T cells were not thought to have a role in the development of disease.
In the study, a substantial number of CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells were observed to have accumulated in postmortem brain tissue from individuals with Parkinson disease and mice with a Parkinson-like disease. Importantly, mice lacking all T cells developed substantially less severe disease in the mouse model of Parkinson disease. Further analysis indicated that protection was specifically associated with a lack of CD4+ T cells expressing the protein FasL.
The authors therefore suggest that targeting the immune system might provide a new therapeutic approach to treating Parkinson disease. However, in an accompanying commentary, Stanley Appel, at Methodist Neurological Institute, Houston, warns that although these data provide rationale for immune-based strategies, there are a large number of questions that need to be answered before such approaches can be considered in the clinic.Journal of Clinical Investigation (2008, December 26). Immune Cells Contribute To Development Of Parkinson's Disease.