March 15, 2011

Detect Early Parkinson’s Disease with Aromatherapy

Does Aromatherapy can be used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease? I think that might be. Here is the research about how ability of someone's smell has something to do with Parkinson’s Diagnose.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the Central Nervous system disorder in the brain which results in difficulty in muscles movement. The muscle movements in any body are controlled with the help of a chemical called Dopamine which is secreted by the nerve cells in the brain. With the absence of dopamine, nerve cells are unable to send messages which results in loss of movement. This also affects the speech and mood of a person causing behavioral problems too. This disorder generally occurs after the age of 50 and the number of functions lost may vary.

It gets very tough for a health care provider to diagnose Parkinson’s disease at a very early stage. One can diagnose this disease based only on the symptoms and physical examination.

Though there is no cure for this disorder, the ultimate goal of a doctor is to control the symptoms. Lots of research is being carried out in this interest. One of the recent studies by Dr. Silke Nuber, speaks that her team has discovered an element which could be an important tool to sort people who are likely to develop this disease. She spoke about this tool in a conference which focuses on the ability of a person to smell.

This tool will help treat this disease at a very early stage. This experiment was first tested on transgenic mice where the alpha-syncline, protein which develops Parkinsonism was turned off. The mice initially showed signs of alpha-syncline in the olfactory bulb which resulted in smell related behavioral changes. The team was successful in meeting its chronic first stage i.e. developing the initial signs of PD of a human in that of mice.
The sense of smell in transgenic mice was noticed to be blocked. This expressed the variation in the dopamine levels of middle-aged mice to that of normal mice. An olfactorial dopamine deficit was observed without any additional abnormalities in the nigrostriatal pathway. The Nigrostriatal pathway controls the muscular movement in a body. Substantia nigra, located in the midbrain, starts losing dopaminergic neurons but these results only in the variation of smell behavior with the motor symptoms showing no change until the half of dopamine function is lost. This ability to trace the early symptoms of PD is a jackpot in treating the same.

A small variation in the above test was also done and carried out, namely, fear related smell test. In this test the mice were exposed to their predator’s smell but in vain, they showed less anxiety. A suppression in the sense of smell results in hyperactivity and increased exploratory behavior which in turn diminishes the anxiety and depressive signs. This is very natural to be found in the mice lacking sense of smell. As there as sings of depressiveness seen, it could be interesting to watch if an anti-depressive drug is cable of increasing the odour sensitivity in the parkinson’s patients.

A standardised test should be developed for testing the smell functions. Tests have not been done yet to check if the existing drugs used at a later stage in PD are effective at early stages of this disease. After all these tests, the diagnosis of PD should not solely depend on the motor symptoms. The olfactory detections should help in early diagnoses of PD and also strategizing different treatment methods for the same.

An efficient preclinical therapy can be developed by functional analysis paralleled to that of the behavioral studies in the mouse model. This therapy can be used to put a stop to the massive dopaminergic neurodegeneration that takes place in PD patients.

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