Wait A Minute, Doc. Ah… Are You Telling Me That You Built A Treatment For Parkinson’s….with Iron?

For all those not understanding my title, it is a rip-off of a quote from Marty McFly , portrayed by Michael J. Fox, from the 1985 classic Back to the Future. This past week my classmates and I discussed the article Targeting dyregulation of brain iron homeostasis in Parkinson’s disease by iron chelators. Honestly, I was blown away by the amount of information that I did not know about Parkinson’s disease (PD). What most people know about PD is that it is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons and the formation of Lewy bodies which lead to tremors and muscle stiffness.

The article tries to discussion the role that iron may play in PD. Iron exists within the body in two forms: Fe2+ and Fe3+. It is essential for the body to have a homeostasis or proper balance of the two ionic forms. These two forms of iron are important to the redox reactions within the body. Dysfunction in this mechanism may have potential dangerous side effects. A dysregulation of the two forms of iron are seen in the brains of patients with PD. Elevated levels of iron may cause the formation and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) along with intracellular alpha-synuclein. Iron chelators help reduce the amount of iron in the brain and attempt to maintain homeostasis.

The most interesting part of this article, in my opinion was the discussion on how green tea can be beneficial to PD. I find this interesting, as I take a sip from my hot cup of green tea, because I come from a Chinese descent. Green tea, along with an oriental diet, has been shown to have many benefits. Green tea’s beneficial effects come from compounds known as catechins. The catechins have been shown to relieve oxidative stress by inhibiting the ROS-NO pathway and also chelate transitional metal ions. Green tea is such a “hot topic” that the Chinese Ministry of Health and the Michael J. Fox Foundation have been funding research to study the potential effects of green on PD. The potential of this research makes me hopeful for the future of those at risk for PD.