People who had the appendix removed from the boys had between 19% and 25% less risk of developing Parkinson in adulthood, according to a study published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"Our results point to the appendix as a site of origin for Parkinson's and provide a way to design new treatment strategies that take advantage of the role of the gastrointestinal tract in the development of the disease," said lead author Viviane Labrie of the Van Research Institute Andel in Michigan (USA).
Why A look at the tissue of an extirpated appendix shows that this small organ, often considered useless, seems to be a reservoir of an abnormal protein (alpha-sinuclein abnormally bent) that, if it reaches the brain, becomes a central feature of the disease. Parkinson's.
The great surprise, according to the results of the work is that many people may have concentrations of this worrying protein in their appendages: young people and old people, people with healthy brains and with Parkinson's.
But do not rush to the surgeon.
"We are not saying that it is going and has an appendectomy," said the neuroscientist and geneticist who led the team of researchers who analyzed the data from two large-scale epidemiological studies, one of 1.6 million people and another of 91 million. .
After all, many people without the organ end up developing Parkinson and others who have the protein never get sick, says the article.
Risk reduction only became apparent when the appendix and alpha-synuclein they contained were eliminated at an early stage of life, years before the onset of the disease, suggesting that the organ could participate at the beginning. His elimination after the disease process, however, had no effect on his progression.
In a general population, people who had an appendectectomy had a 19% reduction in developing Parkinson's, which was amplified in people living in rural areas, with a 25% reduction in the risk of developing the disease. Instead, interventions did not have an apparent benefit in people whose disease was related to genetic mutations transmitted by their families, a group that comprises less than 10% of cases.
The efforts of the scientific community are focused on understanding the origin of this disorder so that it can be treated prematurely, as patients go to the office when motor symptoms, such as tremor or stiffness, appear to be a sign that the disease is already advanced .
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Doctors and patients knew for some time that there was a connection between the gastrointestinal tract and that of Parkinson's. Constipation and other tract problems are common in people who then begin to experience tremors and other movement problems that lead to the diagnosis of the disease.
The recent study will boost new research to try to find new clues to determine why and who are at risk.
"It's a piece of the puzzle, a fundamental track," said Doctor Allison Willis, a Parkinson's specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, who did not participate in the new studies, but says that his patients regularly ask about gastrointestinal connections.
The scientific director of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, James Beck, who was not part of the studies, also said that "there are many promising connections."
He noted that, despite its reputation, the appendix plays a role in immunity that could influence inflammation. The type of bacteria that lives in the appendix can also affect Parkinson's.