New insights on immune cell process and Parkinson’s disease


Author: Saskia MairPublished: 14 October 2021

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An abstract red, blue and yellow cell cluster.

Insoluble clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein, which can cause damage to brain cells, have been previously linked to Parkinson’s. Now, scientists in Germany, France and the US have uncovered new details on how brain cells respond to these clusters.

The researchers discovered that the brain’s immune cells may be able to join together to break down the protein clumps. According to a press release, this was previously unknown. They also found that these neighbouring cells share mitochondria – structures that generate energy for chemical reactions – to help one another.

In certain mutations associated with Parkinson’s, this process may be impaired. The researchers hope this insight could inform the development of new therapies.

“We have opened the door to a field that will certainly engage researchers for many years to come,” said Professor Dr Michael Heneka, director of the Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Geriatric Psychiatry at the University Hospital Bonn.

Lead image credit: AG Heneka / University of Bonn

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