Ultra-powerful brain scanners give hope for treating cognitive symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

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Coeruleus as observed on 7T MRI scanners. Credit: Cambridge University

Ultra-powerful 7T MRI scanners can be used to detect those patients with Parkinson’s disease and similar diseases who are more likely to benefit from new treatments for symptoms that have not previously been treated, scientists say.

Both Parkinson’s disease and its associated disorder, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), are progressive diseases of the brain that not only affect movement but also impair motivation and cognition. These latter symptoms can have a serious impact on a patient’s outcome, affecting his or her survival and general well-being, as well as stress and costs for families.

To understand the reasons for them cognitive symptoms

The results are published today in the journal Traffic disorders.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease and PSP are often treated with drugs such as L-DOPA, which compensate for the strong loss of dopamine. But dopamine treatment helps little for many immobile symptoms. That is why scientists have begun to pay attention to norepinephrinea chemical that plays an important role in brain functions including attention and arousal, thinking and motivation.

Professor James Rowe of the Department of Clinical Neurology at Cambridge University, who led the study, said: “Norepinephrine is very important for brain function. All of our brain’s supply comes from a tiny area in the back of the brain called locus coeruleus—Which means “blue spot”. It’s a bit like two short sticks of spaghetti half an inch long: thin, small and hidden at the very base of the brain in the brain stem.

A study conducted last year by Professor Rowe’s team, examining brains transferred to the Cambridge Brain Bank, found that some people with PSP lost up to 90% of their brain, which produces norepinephrine.

The question the team wanted to answer was: how could this tiny region be explored on living patients? Previous MRI scanners did not have permission to measure area in living patients.

Ultra-powerful brain scanners give hope for treating cognitive symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Coeruleus as observed in 3T MRI scanners. Credit: Cambridge University

“Locus coeruleus is the devil that can be seen on a regular scanner,” said Professor Rove. “Even good hospital scanners just can’t see it very well. And if you can’t measure it, you can’t understand the difference between two people: who has more, who has less? We wanted the MRI scanners to be good enough to do it for a while ”.

While most scanners can show structures at the level of rice grain detail, 7T scanners, which have heavy-duty magnetic fields, can provide a grain size difference. The scanners allowed the group to study the golden location of their subjects and confirm that the higher the level of damage to the area, the more severe the symptoms of apathy and the worse they performed on cognitive tests.

The results give hope for new treatments for these symptoms. A number of drugs that increase norepinephrine have already undergone clinical trials in other diseases, and thus have shown that they are safe and well tolerated. Professor Rowe and colleagues are now conducting a clinical study at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to see if these drugs alleviate symptoms in PSP.

Dr Rong E of the Department of Clinical Neurology at Cambridge University, co-author of the study, said: “Not every patient with PSP or Parkinson’s will benefit from drugs that increase norepinephrine. They are more likely to benefit these people with damage to their locus coeruleus.” and the greater the damage, the more benefit they are likely to see.

“The 7T Powerful Scanner can help us identify those patients we think will benefit most. It will be important to the success of clinical trials, and if the drugs are effective, we will know which patients need to be treated before. In the long run, it will be more cost-effective than giving norepinephrine boosters to patients who end up seeing no benefit. ”

It is believed that in PSP head damage is caused by the accumulation of unnecessary tau protein. When norepinephrine is broken down, it seems to cause changes in the tau protein that lead to its accumulation. It then damages the same cells that produce norepinephrine, leading to a vicious circle. A similar situation can occur with Parkinson’s disease.


Which makes stress for the brain


Additional information:
The integrity of Locus Coeruleus from 7T MRI refers to apathy and cognition in Parkinson’s disease, Traffic disorders (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / MDS.29072

Provided


Citation: Ultra-powerful brain scanners give hope for treating cognitive symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (2022, May 16), received May 16, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-ultra-powerful-brain-scanners- cognitive- symptoms.html

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