Antioxidant Therapies May Help Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

Nutrition News Dancing With Antioxidants Cover

A new review examines the potential of antioxidant approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis.

Certain compounds that are involved in oxidative stress look like promising therapeutic targets. Researchers are investigating the potential of increasing antioxidant capacity by targeting what’s known as the Nrf2 pathway, as well as developing inhibitors of NADPH oxidases, which are key sources of reactive oxygen species. Other potential strategies for limiting oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases include reducing the production of nitric oxide, or preventing mitochondrial dysfunction.

“There are still several gaps in our understanding of the basis of oxidative damage in neurodegenerative disorders; however, it is increasingly accepted that many diseases share common pathways of oxidative stress-related damage, and it’s likely that significant progress will be made in the design and implementation of effective therapeutic strategies in the next few years,” said Dr. Gethin McBean, lead author of the British Journal of Pharmacology review.


Pesticide Exposure Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

The fertile soil of California’s Central Valley has long made it famous as the nation’s breadbasket. But it’s not just the soil that allows for such productivity. Crops like potatoes, dry beans, and tomatoes have long been protected from bugs and weeds by the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat.
Scientists know that in animal models and cell cultures, such pesticides trigger a neurodegenerative process that leads to Parkinson’s disease. Now scientists at UCLA provide the first evidence for a similar process in humans.
In a new epidemiological study of Central Valley residents who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), it was found that years of exposure to the combination of these two pesticides had increased the risk of PD by 75 percent.
Further, for people 60 years old and younger diagnosed with PD, earlier exposure had increased their risk to the disease by as much as four-to-six-fold.
Reporting in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, senior author Beate Ritz, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health, and first author Sadie Costello, a former doctoral student at UCLA, now at the University of California, Berkeley, found that Valley residents who lived within 500 meters of fields sprayed between the years of 1974-1999 had a 75 percent increased risk to Parkinson’s.
Further, people who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 60 or younger were found to have been at much higher risk because they had been exposed to either maneb or paraquat alone or to both pesticides in combination, between the years 1974–1989, a time when they would have been children, teens, or young adults.
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