Novel SOD1 Pathology Found in Regions of Parkinson’s Disease Brain

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Novel SOD1 Pathology Found in Regions of Parkinson’s Disease Brain

BERLIN – A new link has been established between SOD1 protein aggregation and neuronal loss in the Parkinson’s disease (PD) brain, according to a study released today at the 20th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

A trademark of many neurodegenerative diseases is abnormal accumulation of proteins called deposits or aggregates. It is already known that superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) protein aggregation in the brain is primarily associated with neuronal loss in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To date, abnormal aggregation of alpha-synuclein protein into Lewy bodies is the primary cause of neuronal loss in PD.

Benjamin Trist and colleagues in Australia and France sought to characterize a novel connection between SOD1 aggregation and neuronal loss in PD. The researchers tested post-mortem tissues from PD and age-matched control brains and found that protein aggregates which tested positive for SOD1 were significantly more abundant in degenerating regions of the PD brain (>5 fold increase in the substantia nigra and >2.5 fold increase in the locus coeruleus). These findings establish a new role of SOD1 pathology in neuronal vulnerability in PD.

Jeffrey Kordower, Professor of Neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center and Director of the Research Center for Brain Repair, states, “This is a very noteworthy abstract documenting SOD1 aggregates in PD. What makes this work important is the abundance of these aggregates in selectively vulnerable regions in the PD brain, such as the substantia nigra and locus coeruleus, with less abundance in regions that are selectively resistant in the disease. This appears independent of alpha synuclein pathology. What remains to be determined is whether SOD1 aggregation is a primary pathological event or is secondary to another pathological pathway. Still, this work suggests that multiple aggregation pathways are part of the PD pathological process.”

About the 20th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders: Meeting attendees gather to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Over 5,000 physicians and medical professionals from more than 86 countries will be able to view over 2,200 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society: The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 5,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit