Parkinson’s Disease Research
Pedro Garcia Sobrinho, Alice Kunzler
The focus of the group’s work has been the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase which controls the rate of synthesis of the catecholamines dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline.
They have examined the role of regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase in response to different types of stress.
Their work is now focused on how regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase plays a role in Parkinson's disease.
They found that there is a selective loss of one of the human TH isoforms in Parkinson's disease and that expression of particular TH isoforms may render the cells more susceptible to death in Parkinson's disease.
Current work has focused on the role of infection and inflammation in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease.
They found that there is a chronic activation of tyrosine hydroxylase in response to infection that only occurs in the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra.
This may explain the capacity of infection processes to cause selective degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra that is a key feature of Parkinson’s disease.