(Press-News.org) DURHAM, N.C. – Nanoplastics interact with a particular protein that is naturally found in the brain, creating changes linked to Parkinson’s disease and some types of dementia.
In a Duke-led study appearing Nov. 17 in Science Advances, the researchers report that the findings create a foundation for a new area of investigation, fueled by the timely impact of environmental factors on human biology.
“Parkinson’s disease has been called the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world,” said principal investigator, Andrew West, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine. “Numerous lines of data suggest environmental factors might play a prominent role in Parkinson’s disease, but such factors have for the most part not been identified.”
Improperly disposed plastics have been shown to break into very small pieces and accumulate in water and food supplies, and were found in the blood of most adults in a recent study.
“Our study suggests that the emergence of micro and nanoplastics in the environment might represent a new toxin challenge with respect to Parkinson’s disease risk and progression,” West said. “This is especially concerning given the predicted increase in concentrations of these contaminants in our water and food supplies.”
West and colleagues in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Department of Chemistry at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences found that nanoparticles of the plastic polystyrene -- typically found in single use items such as disposable drinking cups and cutlery -- attract the accumulation of the protein known as alpha-synuclein. West said the study’s most surprising findings are the tight bonds formed between the plastic and the protein within the area of the neuron where these accumulations are congregating, the lysosome.
Researchers said the plastic-protein accumulations happened across three different models performed in the study - in test tubes, cultured neurons, and mouse models of Parkinson’s disease. West said questions remain about how such interactions might be happening within humans and whether the type of plastic might play a role.
“While microplastic and nanoplastic contaminants are being closely evaluated for their potential impact in cancer and autoimmune diseases, the striking nature of the interactions we could observe in our models suggest a need for evaluating increasing nanoplastic contaminants on Parkinson’s disease and dementia risk and progression,” West said.
“The technology needed to monitor nanoplastics is still at the earliest possible stages and not ready yet to answer all the questions we have,” he said. “But hopefully efforts in this area will increase rapidly, as we see what these particles can do in our models. If we know what to look out for, we can take the necessary steps to protect ourselves, without compromising all the benefits we reap every day from plastics.”
The study was funded by in part by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s initiative (ASAP-020527).
In addition to West, study authors include Zhiyong Liu, Arpine Sokratian, Addison M. Duda, Enquan Xu, Christina Stanhope, Amber Fu, Samuel Strader, Huizhong Li, Yuan Yuan, Benjamin G. Bobay, Joana Sipe, Ketty Bai, Iben Lundgaard, Na Liu, Belinda Hernandez, Catherine Bowes Rickman, and Sara E. Miller.
New research published today in leading international journal Science Advances paints an uncharacteristically upbeat picture for the planet. This is because more realistic ecological modelling suggests the world’s plants may be able to take up more atmospheric CO2 from human activities than previously predicted.
Despite this headline finding, the environmental scientists behind the research are quick to underline that this should in no way be taken to mean the world’s governments can take their foot off the brake in their obligations to reduce carbon ...
EL PASO, Texas (Nov. 17, 2023) – Could the solution to the decades-long battle against malaria be as simple as soap? In a new study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, scientists at The University of Texas at El Paso have made a compelling case for it.
The team has found that adding small quantities of liquid soap to some classes of pesticides can boost their potency by more than ten-fold.
The discovery is promising news as malaria-carrying mosquitoes display ...
Using historical records from around Australia, an international team of researchers have put forward the most accurate prediction to date of past Antarctic ice sheet melt, providing a more realistic forecast of future sea level rise.
The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest block of ice on earth, containing over 30 million cubic kilometers of water.
Hence, its melting could have a devasting impact on future sea levels. To find out just how big that impact might be, the research team, including Dr Mark Hoggard from The Australian National University, turned to the past.
Policies that encourage landlords to evict tenants who have involvement with the criminal justice system do not appear to reduce crime, while increasing evictions among Black residents and people with lower incomes, according to a new RAND Corporation report.
Studying “crime-free housing policies” adopted by cities in California over a decade-long period, researchers found no meaningful statistical evidence that the policies reduce crime.
The study also found that crime-free housing policies significantly increased ...
This year’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) focuses on the targets outlined in the 2023 Council Recommendation to step up efforts in the European Union (EU) against antimicrobial resistance in a One Health approach.  Those recommendations formulate the 2023 goal to reduce total antibiotic consumption (community and hospital sectors combined) by 20%, using consumption data from 2019 as baseline.
Consumption of antibiotics in the community accounts for around 90% of the total use. This means, that a substantial and consistent decline in the use of antibiotics in this sector will be key on the way towards reaching ...
New Orleans, LA – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Foundation has selected Rahn Baily, MD, DLFAPA, ACP, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, as the recipient of the 2024 Solomon Carter Fuller Award.
According to the APA Foundation, “The Solomon Carter Fuller Award—established in 1969 and named for Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, recognized as the first Black psychiatrist in America—honors a Black citizen who has pioneered in ...
A team of scientists from the Institut Pasteur has used the database of the National Reference Center for Meningococci to trace the evolution of invasive meningococcal disease cases in France between 2015 and 2022, revealing an unprecedented resurgence in the disease after the easing of control measures imposed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Recently reported cases have mainly been caused by meningococcal serogroups that were less frequent before the pandemic, and there has been a particular uptick in cases among people aged 16 to 24. The results, published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health on October 12, ...
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have identified a protein key to the development of a type of brain cell believed to play a role in disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and used the discovery to grow the neurons from stem cells for the first time.
The stem-cell-derived norepinephrine neurons of the type found in a part of the human brain called the locus coeruleus may enable research into many psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases and provide a tool for developing ...
Migraine is more than just a headache. Often the pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, and sound sensitivity. Chronic migraine can be disabling and may prevent many, especially women, from contributing to working life.
Still, it often takes a long time for migraine patients to find a treatment that works well for them. Researchers at the Norwegian Center for Headache Research (NorHead) have used data from the Norwegian Prescription Register to look at which medicines best prevent migraine in people in Norway:
“There has now been done a lot of research on this subject ...
University of B.C. researchers have uncovered startling connections between micronutrient deficiencies and the composition of gut microbiomes in early life that could help explain why resistance to antibiotics has been rising across the globe.
The team investigated how deficiencies in crucial micronutrients such as vitamin A, B12, folate, iron, and zinc affected the community of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in the digestive system.
They discovered that these deficiencies led to significant shifts in the gut ...