An Examination of Parkinson's Disease and Its Effects

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Amanda Ingersoll
Mrs. Scanavino
BIO 209-S9
19 Mar. 2012
An Examination of Parkinson’s Disease and its Effects
Through the study of anatomy and physiology, physicians have learned that Parkinson’s disease can be developed many ways, include many symptoms leading to diagnosis and although incurable can be treated and managed. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, Parkinson’s is a disease related to the loss or underactive production of dopamine producing brain cells. The loss of these brain cells produce symptoms that can affect the body as a whole, causing difficulties for individuals who possess the disease to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It has been discovered that Parkinson’s has been prevalent within society since the physician Galen termed it as the “shaking palsy” in 175 AD (Parkinson’s). Although Galen was the first physician accredited with Parkinson’s disease by observing individuals with the “shakes” it was not until 1817 that the disease was introduced to the world (Parkinson’s). James Parkinson published a medical essay regarding the disease known as An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, based on six cases he had observed within his own practice. The essay’s main purpose when published was to raise awareness so that the disease could be recognized as a medical condition and research be established in order to treat the disease (Parkinson’s). The result of this essay led French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot to examine the disease thoroughly. After recognizing the importance of the disease, Charcot named the disease Parkinson’s disease in honor of predecessor James Parkinson (Parkinson’s). Even though much about Parkinson’s was still unknown, through capacious research an adequate amount of information related to the disease was attained. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that the chemical differences in patients brains were identified (Parkinson’s). Once the chemical differences were established, physicians found that low levels of dopamine within the patients brains were causing deterioration of nerve cells within the mesencephalon (midbrain) (Parkinson’s). A structure known as the substantia nigra, a nucleus controlling motor functions, was most affected by the nerve cells depletion (Parkinson’s). Through this discovery the first medical treatment was developed. Levodopa, a medication given to patients in order to control symptoms became prominent within the world of Parkinson’s. To gain an improved comprehension as to why Levodopa was formed let’s examine the factors that lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Among many factors that can lead to the development of Parkinson’s, advancing age seems to be the most common. As we grow older our bodies have a tendency to develop illnesses and diseases that would not have been common at previous ages. The reasons related to this are neural damage from genetics or environmental factors along with weakening immune systems which affect our bodies at a cellular level. What happens at the cellular level is the death of dopamine neurons followed by the death of norepinephrine creates the symptoms which lead to the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. The dopamine neurons appear to die because of excess calcium, (part of the aging process as the cells go from a sodium base to calcium) mutated alpha-synuclein, and premature signaling forcing the dopamine down the dopamine vesicle to await the signal from the pre-synapse. However, there is no pending signal and the dopamine and the alpha-synuclein become a muck that causes the death of the dopamine neuron. Dopamine is the precursor of norepinephrine which picks up the slack in neurotransmitting for the declining dopamine supplies, so in turn the norepinephrine also begins to die (Parkinson’s). Thus, an individual will find that the majority of Parkinson’s disease patients are in the later years of their lifespan. Comparative to age, gender tends to take on a specific role in the...
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