A new therapeutic avenue for Parkinson's disease

Clearing senescent astrocytes prevents Parkinson’s in mouse model of sporadic disease

January 23, 2018/Novato, CA Systemic clearing of senescent astrocytes prevents Parkinson’s neuropathology and associated symptoms in a mouse model of sporadic disease, the type implicated in 95% of human cases. Publishing in Cell Reports, researchers in the Andersen lab at the Buck Institute provide a new potential therapeutic avenue for the incurable, progressive neurological disorder that affects up to one million Americans, robbing them of the ability to control movement.

Senescent cells, which stop dividing in response to stress, secrete deleterious factors that cause tissue damage and lead to chronic inflammation. In this study, senescence was triggered by exposure to the pesticide paraquat, a neurotoxin formally linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease in farmworkers in 2011.

“While senescence has been implicated in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disease, we believe this is the first time that clearing the inflammatory cells prevented symptoms from developing in a live mammal,” said Julie K. Andersen, PhD, Buck professor and senior author on the paper. “We hope that the fact that we were able to do this in a sporadic, rather than genetic, model of Parkinson’s, highlights its relevance as a potential new way to tackle the most prevalent form of the disease.”