Why Do We Care About Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease does not discriminate. It affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. Worldwide, more than 4 million reported PD cases exist. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15 percent of those diagnosed are under the age of 50. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nigrostriatal dopamine system resulting in motor impairments. While the exact mechanism for dopamine degeneration is unknown, several mechanisms have been implicated such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and glutamate excitotoxicity. The work in my laboratory focuses on all three of these mechanisms as they relate to one another with the idea that Parkinson’s disease isn’t a single insult disease, rather results due to a combination of factors. To study these mechanisms, we assess the function of neuronal populations (neurotransmitter release and uptake) in genetic and toxin-induced animal models of Parkinson’s disease by the use of electrochemical detection of neurotransmitters. This is coupled with motor behavior performance, protein quantification, and morphological assessment of brain regions associated with motor function. In addition to studying mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease, my lab tests potential treatment strategies that can be translated for use in the clinic. Therefore, my lab works closely with the MUSC Movement Disorder team.
To answer my scientific questions, my lab implores the use of various techniques such as electrochemistry, various behavioral tasks, immunohistochemistry, western blotting, ELISAs for protein quantification, and image analysis via densitometry and stereology.