Lowered Testosterone Levels Can Lead to Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder that affects the nervous system. As the disease progresses, often during old age, it leads movement failure and stiffness. Since Parkinson's is incurable, finding preventative measures or better treatment options is the key in helping people at risk for this illness. In a new study, researchers have identified a potential risk factor that might lead to Parkinson's disease.
For this study, team of neurological researchers from Rush University Medical Center found that men who experienced a sudden decrease in their testosterone levels might be at a greater risk of developing Parkinson's disease. In this study the researchers used different toxins and multiple genetic approaches in order to create a disease as closely related to Parkinson's as possible in mice models. Research into Parkinson's has been limited due to the fact that recreating Parkinson's disease in animal models is extremely difficult. In their animal model, the researchers found that when the male mice's testosterone levels fell due to castration, they experienced Parkinson's like symptoms.
"After castration, levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and nitric oxide go up in the brain dramatically. Interestingly, castration does not cause Parkinson's like symptoms in male mice deficient in iNOS gene, indicating that loss of testosterone causes symptoms via increased nitric oxide production," the researchers wrote.
The researchers noted that the role of nitric oxide could be significant in understanding Parkinson's. The researchers found that when nitric oxide is produced abundantly in the brain by the protein, iNOS, neurons end up dying. Further research into the role of nitric oxide and testosterone could help with understanding and treating Parkinson's.
"We found that the supplementation of testosterone in the form of 5-alphia dihydrotestosterone (DHT) pellets reverses Parkinson's pathology in male mice," the study's lead author, Dr. Kalipada Pahan said. "In men, testosterone levels are intimately coupled to many disease processes. Therefore, preservation of testosterone in males may be an important step to become resistant to Parkinson's disease."
The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.