Led by Dr. C. Justin Lee along with Dr. Hoon Ryu and Dr. Sang Ryong Jeon, researchers at the Center for Cognition and Sociality within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and Asan Medical Center (AMC) have discovered a new mechanism for PD pathology. The researchers reported that the symptoms of PD begin when dopaminergic neurons are "non-functional," even before they die off. Though the neuronal death had been until now believed to be the obvious cause of PD, the study found that the movement abnormalities of PD begin in the earlier stage when dopaminergic neurons, though being alive, cannot synthesize dopamine (in a dormant state).
"Everyone has been so trapped in the conventional idea of the neuronal death as the single cause of PD. That hampers efforts to investigate roles of other neuronal activities, such as surrounding astrocytes," said Dr. C. Justin Lee, the corresponding author of the study. Lee adds, "The neuronal death ruled out any possibility to reverse PD. Since dormant neurons can be awakened to resume their production capability, this finding will allow us to give PD patients hope to live a new life without PD."