A team of Portuguese researchers, including Hugo Vicente Miranda, from the Research Center for Chronic Diseases (CEDOC) from NOVA Medical School | Faculdade de Ciências Médicas managed to avoid the toxic effects of the increase in sugars that lead to Parkinson's disease. The results of this work follow previous studies, where the relationship between diabetes and Parkinson's disease had already been confirmed.
Scientists were already aware that the accumulated sugar in the blood lowers the levels of one protein (Hsp27), causing abnormalities in another important protein associated with Parkinson's disease. These abnormalities make it toxic to neurons and cause the symptoms of the disease. In 2017, a group led by Tiago Outeiro, from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Göttingen, in Germany, revealed that glycation (reaction of sugars with proteins) is associated with the death of neurons, namely those that produce dopamine. The lack of this neurotransmitter leads to failures, especially at the motor level, because the information does not reach the cerebral cortex correctly. When studying this phenomenon in fruit flies with motor problems due to increased glycation, it was concluded that, when using drugs that have the ability to prevent this process, the flies recovered their motor capacity. In the case of the mouse study, the conclusion was that glycation led to the loss of dopaminergic neurons, which typically die in Parkinson's disease. According to Hugo Vicente Miranda, principal investigator of CEDOC at NMS | FCM, who also participated in this study, at the moment, the work focuses on reversing this reaction in mice.
On the other hand, knowing that the Hsp27 protein can protect alpha-synuclein, it was observed that in the absence of the first - due to the increase in sugars - the second is no longer protected. However, by compensating for Hsp27 levels through genetic tools, it is possible to ensure that alpha-synuclein protection is maintained. These conclusions were published this month in the scientific journal FASEB, by two teams coordinated by Tiago Outeiro and Hugo Vicente Miranda.
The results of this work thus open the way for new therapeutic strategies for Parkinson's disease.