Toxic proteins discarded by brain cells may cause neurological disorders

Toxic proteins discarded by brain cells may cause neurological disorders

Old age can bring a lot of health challenges with an increased risk of chronic conditions, genetic disorders and behavioral problems. Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death among aged Americans. Apart from Alzheimer’s, the commonality of Parkinson’s disease is evident from figures by the NIH Senior Health stating that roughly 60,000 people in the United States are detected with the disorder every year. The prevalence of Parkinson’s rise with increasing age though the same may stabilize by the time patient turns 80 years old.

A group of scientists in their study titled “C. elegans neurons jettison protein aggregates and mitochondria under neurotoxic stress” suggested that neurodegenerative disorders may have roots in dysfunctional brain cells ejecting proteins that may be obnoxious in nature. The authors of the study that got published online in the journal Nature in February 2017 suggested that presence of these poisonous proteins may make the neighboring cells sick.

The scientists put forth their views that though it may not be difficult for healthy neurons to rid the brain cells of accumulated toxic proteins and damaged cell structures without resulting in any side effects, study findings pinpoint at the fact that discarding toxic proteins may not be that easy. The study was based on the premise that though the researchers have knowledge about how elimination of toxic cellular substances takes place within the cell, no prior studies have revealed necessary information about how the cells get rid of the garbage externally.

Underlining the potential cause of neurodegenerative diseases

Elucidating the observations made during the research, Monica Driscoll, distinguished professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, School of Arts and Sciences said, “What we found out could be compared to a person collecting trash and putting it outside for garbage day. They actively select and sort the trash from the good stuff, but if it’s not picked up, the garbage can cause real problems.”

The scientists looked at transparent roundworms, known as C. elegans, equivalent to molecular structure, functioning and genetic traits of humans. The scientists found that the worms with a lifespan of roughly three weeks had an external garbage removal system that facilitated dumping of harmful proteins out of the cell also. The lead author of the study, Iliya Melentijevic, a graduate student in Driscoll’s laboratory said, “In most cases, you couldn’t see it for long but in a small number of instances, it was like a cloud that accumulated outside the neuron and just stayed there.”

The researchers revealed that the excess neurodegenerative destructive proteins excreted by the roundworms were associated with psychiatric disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s. The researchers are hopeful that this may pave way for much needed approaches in treating neurodegeneration and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The findings enable increased understanding of how certain degenerative disorders spread in the brain and affect overall health. These diseases affect the cognitive abilities significantly and also have an impact on memory, decision-making, thinking and problem-solving skills.

Help at hand

Timely treatment of neurological diseases is imperative to avoid any possible chances of mental health deterioration. The California Mental Health Helpline experts can suggest some effective programs for those who are either at risk of potential psychiatric disorders or are already suffering.

You may call our 24/7 helpline number at 855-559-3923 for expert advice on mental health centers in California that provide calm environment, therapeutic and innovative curative methods. You may also chat with our online representatives for more information about psychological rehabilitation centers in California.