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Friday, November 2, 2018

The lowly appendix may play a surprising role in the development of Parkinson’s disease - Los Angeles Times

 The appendix has long been dismissed as an organ that has outlived its usefulness in human evolution. But new research suggests it may play an active — and detrimental — role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Healthy appendixes contain alpha-synuclein (shown in red), a protein that is a constituent of the Lewy bodies observed in Parkinson's disease. (B.A. Killinger et al. / Science Translational Medicine)

The appendix has long been dismissed as an organ that has outlived its usefulness in human evolution. But new research suggests it may play an active — and detrimental — role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.
In a finding that extends the link between gut and brain health in a surprising new direction, scientists found that people who had their appendix removed were 20% less likely to develop the neurodegenerative disorder than people who did not have appendectomies.
What’s more, surgical removal of the appendix seemed to forestall the appearance of Parkinson’s symptoms, which include tremors, movement difficulties and signs of dementia. Among older patients in whom Parkinson’s disease was eventually diagnosed, those who’d had their appendix removed experienced their first symptoms 3.6 years later, on average.

Dr. Viviane Labrie - Appendix identified as a potential starting point for Parkinson’s disease


Aggregated alpha-Synuclein is visible in the neurons of the appendix. (Van Andel Research Institute)




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