Estrogen Protects The Brain From Parkinson’s Disease

There are nearly 500,000 people currently living with Parkinson's disease in the U.S. Researchers hope to reduce that number or prevent new cases with a new potential treatment to fight the neurodegenerative condition.

A new study, published in the journal JNeurosci, found that estrogen plays a key role in the development of Parkinson's disease. Estrogens mainly work in the body for sexual and reproductive development. 

Researchers from Harvard Medical School said that with their findings, estrogen may soon be used to create treatments for Parkinson's. The team analyzed the hormones in mice that developed the disease. 

The animal subjects received the chemical called DHED that supports production of estrogen in the brain. The researchers then observed their motor function after treatment and the activities of the protein alpha-synuclein, which is the primary driver of Parkinson's disease. 

The estrogen treatment appeared effective to help female mice reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's while male subjects showed slow loss of nerve fibers and improved motor symptoms. Estrogen also led to lower levels of alpha-synuclein in the animals’ brains. 

The findings support earlier studies that showed the link between estrogen and Parkinson's disease. Previous research suggested the hormones could protect cognitive functions and block the disease.

Another study found that even low doses of estrogen could reduce motor symptoms in postmenopausal women diagnosed with the condition. The researchers of the latest study said combining their work with earlier research would guide the medical community in developing treatments for Parkinson's disease, Medical News Today reported Wednesday

The Harvard team also noted estrogen has the potential to help human patients slow the progression of the condition. However, future research has yet to test estrogen effects in humans before creating medications for public use. 

To date, up to 60,000 people are being diagnosed with the disease every year in the U.S. If the figure continues to grow, the country may see nearly one million Americans living with Parkinson's disease by 2020, according to Parkinson's Foundation.

The risk of having the neurodegenerative condition increases as people age. The U.S. population is getting older and the number of patients with Parkinson's is expected to grow in the coming years. 

Old woman Carmen Blandin Tarleton, of Manchester, was a victim of domestic violence who received her face transplant in 2013. Pixabay