Nicotine protects brain from Parkinson’s disease

Washington: A new research has found that nicotine prevents us from developing Parkinson’s disease by protecting dopamine neurons in the brain.

The discovery may lead to entirely new types of treatments for the disease.

“This study raises the hope for a possible neuroprotective treatment of patients at an early step of the disease or even before at a stage where the disease has not been diagnosed according to motor criteria,” said Patrick P. Michel, co-author of the study from the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epiniere, Hopital de la Salpetriere, in Paris, France.

To make this discovery, scientists used mice genetically engineered without a specific nicotine receptor (the alpha-7 subtype) and mice with a functional receptor.

Using tissue from mouse embryos, researchers prepared brain cultures using conditions that favour the slowly progressing loss of dopamine neurons, a hallmark of the disease.

The scientists found that nicotine had the potential to rescue dopamine neurons in cultures from normal mice, but not in cultures from mice without the nicotine receptor.

These findings suggest that it may be feasible to develop novel therapies for Parkinson’s disease that target nicotine receptors, particularly the alpha-7 nicotine receptor.

The study was published in The FASEB Journal.