Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration or destruction of dopamine-producing nerve cells (dopaminergic cells), which in turn makes it harder for the brain to control and coordinate muscle movement.
Experts are not sure why the nerve cells that cause Parkinson’s disease become damaged or die.
Genetic mutations linked to brain cell death - scientists at the University of Cambridge and University College London found that genetic mutations undermine the natural process of getting rid of faulty mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They take in nutrients, break them down, and create energy for the cell.
When mitochondria are faulty they need to be eliminated. The scientists found that defects in the Parkinson’s gene “Fbxo7” disrupt the process of faulty mitochondrial elimination.
The researchers believe that medications that target mitophagy - the elimination of faulty mitochondria - may one help treat or possibly prevent Parkinson’s disease.