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Fruit Ingredients Could Benefit Parkinson’s Disease Management

Researchers say that farnesol found naturally in herbs, berries and other fruits, prevents and reverses brain damage linked to Parkinson’s Disease in mouse studies. The compound, used in flavorings and perfume-making, can prevent the loss of neurons that produce dopamine in the brains of mice by deactivating PARIS, a key protein involved in the disease’s progression. The results of the study were published in Science Translational Medicine.

Loss of such neurons affects movement and cognition, leading to hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease such as tremors, muscle rigidity, confusion and dementia. Farnesol’s ability to block PARIS, say the researchers, could guide the development of new of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that the experiments showed that farnesol both significantly prevented the loss of dopamine neurons and reversed behavioral deficits in mice, indicating its promise as a potential drug treatment to prevent Parkinson’s Disease.

The study published in detail how the researchers identified farnesol’s potential by screening a large library of drugs to find those that inhibited PARIS. In the brain of people, a buildup of PARIS slows down the manufacture of the protective protein PGC-1alpha. The protein shields brain cells from damaging reactive oxygen molecules that accumulate in the brain. Without PGC-1alpha, dopamine neurons die off, leading to the cognitive and physical changes associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

The researchers found that the mice fed the farnesol diet performed better on a strength and coordination test designed to detect the advancement of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. On average, the mice performed 100% better than mice injected with alpha-synuclein but fed a regular diet.

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