Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_89954

Gene clue may explain higher Parkinson's risk for men

23 February 2006
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 347

Australian and US researchers have discovered that the gene responsible for 'maleness' could explain why men are 50 per cent more likely than women to develop Parkinson's disease (PD). The scientists, based at Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne and the University of California in Los Angeles, have shown that SRY - the gene that determines gender in the early embryo - is also active in the area of the brain affected by PD. The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, could also help explain why men are at greater risk of some other brain disorders, say the team.

People with PD are affected by tremors, stiff muscles and slow movements, caused by a gradual loss of nerve cells in an area of the brain controlling movement. It is not known what triggers this loss, but PD is not normally inherited. However, the illness does occasionally run in families, where the symptoms often appear at a younger age than in non-inherited cases. The disease is associated with a lack of dopamine, a brain communication chemical.

In the latest study, the team found that the SRY protein is produced in the area of the brain affected by PD, called the substantia nigra, as well as in the embryo. When the scientists lowered the level of SRY in rodent brains, it triggered a drop in dopamine levels, and the animals developed PD-like symptoms.

Team leaders Vincent Harley and Eric Vilain think that variations in genes that influence SRY production, or the SRY gene itself, could contribute to the onset of PD. They suggest that the normal role of SRY in the brain could be to help brain cells produce dopamine, and that men with lower levels of SRY could be at increased risk of developing the disease. 'The SRY gene may also explain the sex differences in other dopamine-linked disorders with a higher incidence in males, such as schizophrenia or addiction', they add.

The team is now comparing SRY levels in brain samples from men who died from Parkinson's disease with those in samples from people who died of other causes. However, although Vilain says he is 'excited' by the discovery, he stressed that any treatments based on the research 'are a long way off'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Gene linked to increased risk of Parkinson's in men
New Scientist |  21 February 2006
Gene May Explain Men's Raised Risk for Parkinson's
Forbes.com |  20 February 2006
Male gene may explain higher incidence of Parkinson's in men
EurekaAlert |  21 February 2006
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
26 January 2006 - by BioNews 
US researchers have found that many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD) in certain ethnic groups could be triggered by a single faulty gene. In two separate studies, the scientists discovered that some patients with an Ashkenazi Jewish or Arabic background have a mutated version of the LRRK2 gene. The findings...
21 January 2005 - by BioNews 
Mutations in a gene involved in familial Parkinson's disease (PD) could be responsible for one in 25 cases of PD worldwide, new research shows. Three studies published in the Lancet have pinpointed a mutation in the LRRK2 gene that could cause around five per cent of inherited cases of PD...
19 April 2004 - by BioNews 
The identification of a gene involved in a rare hereditary form of Parkinson's disease could lead to new treatments for this incurable brain disorder, UK scientists say. Families affected by a severe, inherited form of the illness have an altered version of a gene called PINK1 (PTEN-induced kinase 1), researchers...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.