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Welders exposed to manganese are at a higher risk for developing Parkinson’s symptoms.

Link Between Metal Exposure and Parkinson’s Symptoms Found

By Harshita  •  

Researchers work on detecting the biological processes that contribute to Parkinson’s-like symptoms due to exposure to some metals.

This study was conducted by Iowa State University and was published in the journal Science Signaling on March 12, 2019.

The study was done through the data provided by Penn State University on mice and blood serum samples from welders. It brings into consideration the effect of metal manganese on the brain of an individual. The study helps in the early detection of brain-related diseases due to exposure to a few types of metals.

Metal manganese is found in alloys that are widely used in industries. The exposure to these kinds of metals may lead to misfolded proteins in the brain that can cause neurological diseases in humans.

Although a little exposure to manganese and other such metals is harmless for the body, but too much exposure can lead to brain damage. One might start showing symptoms similar to a disease called Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder and it affects the movements of one’s body.

This study found that as soon as a person is exposed to manganese, it gets in contact with a protein in his brain called alpha-synuclein. Manganese combines with it and leads to the symptoms showing neurological disorders.

The researchers further deduced that the pathological form of this misfolded protein get packaged into vesicles and facilitate the movement of the proteins from cell to cell. This leads to the growth of protein-seeding activity.

The newly packaged vesicles cause inflammation of tissues that may further lead to neurodegenerative responses in patients’ body.

Anumantha Kanthasamy, a Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor in veterinary medicine and the Eugene and Linda Lloyd Endowed Chair of Neurotoxicology said, “The study found welders exposed to manganese had increased misfolded alpha-synuclein serum content, meaning the welders are at a higher risk for developing Parkinson’s symptoms.”

Kanthasamy added, “As the disease advances, it’s harder to slow it down with treatments. Earlier detection, perhaps by testing for misfolded alpha-synuclein, can lead to better outcomes for patients. Such a test might also indicate whether someone is at risk before the onset of the disease.”

The study related to manganese and neurological disorders is not a new one as it has been known since the 1950’s that manganese affects the brain cells. This is because the manganese elements get accumulated in brain tissues as soon as the person gets in contact with it.

This new research is a major advancement in the study of metals and neurological disorders. This could lead to the development of a new assay or medical test that can detect misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins in one’s body at very early stages.

Further, it can help doctors in treating Parkinson’s Disease. Also, this could help in measuring the efficacy of drugs meant to slow down the effects or growth of this disease.

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