Differences in susceptibility for Parkinson’s disease in the marmoset monkey

12 May 2016

BPRC - 1. Differences in susceptibility for Parkinson’s disease in the marmoset monkey

Parkinson's disease (PD) is, next to Alzheimer's disease, the second most common progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the brain. Although age is the most important risk factor to develop PD, little is known about the cause of this disease. Multiple factors may play a role in the pathology of this disease. However, not everyone will develop PD in life. In a small part of the patients genetic factors will play a role, but from most patients the cause of the higher susceptibility is still unknown.

To learn more about the etiology of PD it is important to gain more insight into the underlying mechanisms that makes a person more susceptible for the disease. This can offer important targets for the development of new therapies to stop further progression of PD. Within BPRC the susceptibility for PD has been examined in a non-human primate model of PD.

PD can be induced in the marmoset monkey by the neurotoxin MPTP. MPTP is a by-product in the synthesis of heroine. The toxic effect on the brain was discovered in young drugs users in the early eighties. The symptoms were undistinguishable from PD. From that moment on, MPTP was used as a tool for PD research.   

Marmoset monkeys injected with MPTP all develop PD. However, the severity of symptoms didn’t develop equally. This development was in coherence with the level of a certain neurotransmitter (a signal compound for communication between brain cells). Furthermore, monkeys from the same family responded similar to the disease induction, indicating a familiar susceptibility. This research, described in the journal “Neurodegenerative Diseases” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26999593), offers new possibilities to learn more about the pathology of PD, in which the individual variation in susceptibility is taken into account. This can be of great value for the diagnosis and treatment of PD patients.