Inflammation in the brain has been linked to more severe symptoms in Parkinson's disease patients — such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety — according to new research out of Michigan State University.
The findings, published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, suggest reversing inflammation in the fluid surrounding the brain's cortex may provide a solution to one of the complex riddles of Parkinson's.
"The degree of neuroinflammation was significantly associated with more severe depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment even after controlling for factors such as age, gender and disease duration," said researcher Lena Brundin of MSU's College of Human Medicine. "By investigating associations between inflammatory markers and non-motor symptoms we hope to gain further insight into this area, which in turn could lead to new treatment options."
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Health experts have long suspected inflammation in the brain is involved in the development of Parkinson's disease, specifically in non-motor symptoms such as depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. Recent research suggests developing new drugs that target inflammation might slow its progression.
"The few previous studies investigating inflammatory markers in the cerebrospinal fluid of Parkinson's patients have been conducted on comparatively small numbers of subjects, and often without a healthy control group for comparison," said Brundin.
For the new study, researchers measured inflammatory markers found in cerebrospinal fluid samples of 87 Parkinson's patients and 37 healthy individuals without the chronic condition. The results showed Parkinson's patients were more likely to have such inflammation markers as C-reactive protein.
The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Lund University in Sweden, Skåne University Hospital in Sweden and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Florida.
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