Investigators from Emory have identified an unusual link between a protein called SV2C and Parkinson’s disease. Previous work did suggest that the SV2C gene was associated with the perplexing ability of smoking cigarette to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
The synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2C (SV2C) is a member of a group of proteins that play a role in controlling the discharge of neurotransmitters in the brain. One of the well-known features of Parkinson’s disease is dopamine depletion and the research shows that the release of dopamine in the brain is controlled by SV2C.
The team created mice without the protein SV2C. This resulted in reduced movement and less dopamine in the brain. The mice’s response to nicotine was blunted. Nicotine is the chemical found in cigarette smoke that researcher believe protect people from Parkinson’s disease. When the team examined brains from patients who had died of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and several other neurodegenerative diseases, they found that SV2C was only altered in the Parkinson’s brains.
Gary W. Miller, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the Rollins School of Public Health, and senior author of the study noted that the results reveals a link between SV2C and dopamine. He believes that drug therapies aimed at SV2C might be beneficial in dopamine-related disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.
The full peer reviewed study was published in the journal PNAS.