Baby aspirin may be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease

CHICAGO, IL, September 10, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — Scientists at the Rush University Medical Center and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (Chicago) have shown that low-dose aspirin may increase dopamine production, help nerve cells and improve locomotor activities in Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is one of the most widely used medications in the world. It is often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever and as an anti-inflammatory medication.

This study describes a new function of aspirin. Results from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and National Institutes of Health funded study, were recently published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

“Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of PD,” said Kalipada Pahan, the Floyd A. Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush and a scientist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Other researchers at Rush and Jesse Brown VA involved in this study were Suresh Rangasamy, Sridevi Dasarathi, Priyanka Pahan, and Malabendu Jana.

Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive disease that affects a small area of cells within the mid-brain known as the substantia nigra. Gradual degeneration of these cells causes a reduction in a vital chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. “The decrease in dopamine is responsible for Parkinsonian symptoms,” said Dr. Pahan.

An enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase is responsible for dopamine production in the brain. The study findings indicate that aspirin increases tyrosine hydroxylase to make more dopamine. “Low-dose aspirin stimulates dopamine production through CREB (cyclic AMP response element-binding protein)-mediated increase in tyrosine hydroxylase,” Dr. Pahan said.

Authors have also shown that aspirin increases dopamine level in the brain and enhances locomotor activities in a mouse model of PD. “Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test baby aspirin in PD patients. If these results are replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating disease,” Dr. Pahan said.

Classical signs of Parkinson’s disease that includes: resting tremor on one side of the body; generalized slowness of movement; stiffness of limbs; and gait or balance problems. The cause of the disease is unknown. Both environmental and genetic causes of the disease have been postulated.

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1.2 million patients in the United States and Canada. Although 15 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 50, it is generally considered a disease that targets older adults, affecting one of every 100 persons over the age of 60. This disease appears to be slightly more common in men than women.