3 Sep 2013

Research: Surprising role revealed for a clot busting enzyme in neurodegenerative disease

Neuronal degeneration, in particular damage to the "Purkinje neurons", occurs in many human disorders including Huntington's disease. Purkinje damage causes abnormal movement. Interestingly, we repeatedly observe high levels of the enzyme "tPA" in the brain during Purkinje damage. As tPA is an enzyme normally responsible for breaking down blood clots, the effect of such high tPA levels in the brain was unknown.
Our paper in Experimental Neurology shows, for the first time, that mice which naturally produce high levels of tPA in the brain experience Purkinje damage. This observation suggests that "tPA" is, at least in part, responsible for Purkinje damage. Future research should now be aimed at reducing "tPA" in the brain and thereby preserving Purkinje health across an array of human neurological disorders such as Huntington's disease.
Journal reference:
Cops EJ, Sashindranath M, Daglas M, Short KM, da Fonseca Pereira C, Pang TY, Lijnen RH, Smyth IM, Hannan AJ, Samson AL, Medcalf RL. Tissue-type plasminogen activator is an extracellular mediator of Purkinje cell damage and altered gait. Experimental Neurology, 9 August 2013.
Image: Medcalf lab. A close-up microscope image of the mouse brain. The "purkinje neurons" (which degenerate in many human neurodegenerative disorders including Huntington's Disease) are depicted in a green-yellow colour.
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