Parkinson Disease Essay

1176 words - 5 pages

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a one of the most common neurodegenerative disease. Some of its major features are resting tremors, muscular rigidity, bradykinesia or slowing of movement and postural instability. The disease is associated with the loss of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra(SN), a region of the midbrain. The cause of this cell loss is still unknown; however some hypotheses have been related the cause to genetic factor, environmental toxins and oxidative damage. Scientists have also identified aging as a big risk factor. Even though PD can't be completely cured, the symptoms can be minimized through multiple drug and surgical therapy.Statistics:According to Parkinson's Disease Foundation, as many as one million Americans have Parkinson's disease. Approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in American alone. An estimated 7 to 10 million people have Parkinson's disease worldwide, affecting all races and cultures. The condition usually develops after the age of 65, but an estimated 4% of those diagnosed are under the age of 50. In addition, recent research shows a 1 to 1.5 time's higher incidence in males.Pathology and Pathophysiology:The major anatomical structure that is affected in PD is called substantia nigra( SN), located in the midbrain that plays an important role in control of body movement. SN appears dark due to high levels of the neuromelatin in dopaminergic neurons which is responsible for producing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine allows the communication between the substantia nigra and another area of the brain called the corpus striatum and this communications coordinates smooth and balanced muscle movement. In addition, another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine works in conjunction with dopamine to produce smooth movement. In Parkinson's disease, there is greatly reduced activity of these dopaminergic neurons caused by cell death, in the pars compacta region of the substantia nigra. The result is the deceasing amount of dopamine being secreted, while amount of acetylcholine remain unchanged. This disturbs the critical balance between dopamine and acetylcholine, results in abnormalities in movement control.The exact cause of the loss of dopaminergic neuron is unknown, but several factors including genetic, environmental triggers and oxidative stress have been explored to explain the process of the neuro-degeneration. Researchers have identified aging as the biggest risk factor associated with PD. Majority of PD cases are idiopathic or have no known cause and occur in people older than 50 years old. Some rare cases have been associated with mutation of several specific genes, one of which is alpha-synuclein. Other risk factors such as environmental toxins include pesticides or herbicides in association with rural living and exposure to well water have been found to increase the risk of Parkinson's disease, but the risk is relatively small. Another mechanism has been related to the...

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