In Parkinson’s disease, dopamine deficiency slows voluntary movement

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Brain Function | Wednesday, October 07, 2015 - 03:00 PM

In Parkinson’s disease, dopamine deficiency slows voluntary movementDopamine deficiency and low D1 receptors in Parkinson’s disease create slowness of moment, according to latest research. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for sending signals between multiple brain regions and the substantia which is critical for the smoothness and purpose of movements. Loss of dopamine can result in impairment of movement, which is commonly seen in Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition where damage has been done to neurons in the area of the brain that controls movement. These neurons become damaged and die, which reduces the production of dopamine and results in slowness or interruptions of movement.

Lack of dopamine to D1 receptors disrupts information flow, leading to difficulties with initiating movement.


Less dopamine transmission and slowness of movements in Parkinson’s disease

Less dopamine transmission and slowness of movements in Parkinson’s diseaseVarious researchers came together to develop a transgenic mouse model where dopamine D1 receptors were reduced. The researchers found that the movements of the mice became slower when D1 was reduced. The researchers then examined electrical activity being outputted by the basal ganglia in the mice.

Professor Atsushi Nambu from the National Institute for Physiological Sciences said, “We have shown that lack of dopamine transmission via D1 receptors disrupts information flow through the ‘direct pathway’ and results in slowness of movements in Parkinson’s disease. This finding provides us important clues to develop new therapies to the disease, such as on-demand activation of D1 receptors to facilitate the information flow through the ‘direct pathway.”

Dopamine levels and Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is part of a group of conditions known as motor system disorders. Conditions associated with motor system disorders reduce the production of dopamine. Dopamine deficiency is a staple of Parkinson’s as it contributes to the many symptoms associated with the disease.

Loss of dopamine also impairs information processing efficiency and can result in memory and concentration problems.


Factors that cause Parkinson’s disease

Factors that cause Parkinson’s diseaseAside from a dopamine deficiency other factors that cause Parkinson’s disease include:

Loss of norepinephrine: Nerve endings that produce the neurotransmitter norepinephrine also become damaged with Parkinson’s disease, which is also related to dopamine. This neurotransmitter controls automatic functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. Loss of norepinephrine can contribute to fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased gastric mobility and postural hypotension.

Lewy bodies in brain cells: Lewy bodies are unusual clumps or deposits of brain proteins. It is still unclear as to why or how Lewy bodies form or how they affect the development of Parkinson’s disease, but they are commonly seen upon examination of the brain in those with Parkinson’s disease.

Genetic mutations: Parkinson’s disease can be hereditary and some cases have been traced back to specific genetic mutations. Researchers believe that Parkinson’s disease consists of both genetic and environmental factors.

Environmental toxins: Many researchers believe that environmental toxins play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Further exploration of toxins and how they relate to Parkinsonian symptoms in humans is required to better understand the role of environmental toxins.


Other side effects of low dopamine levels

Other side effects of low dopamine levelsBecause of the importance of dopamine, low levels of the neurotransmitter are associated with many other side effects as well. Side effects of low dopamine levels include:

  • Attention deficits
  • Anxiety
  • Blunted affect – emotional flat-line
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor concentration
  • Inattentiveness
  • Low libido
  • Memory impairment
  • Monotone speech
  • Sleepiness
  • Slow thinking
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight changes
  • Balance difficulties
  • Inability to write
  • Changes in posture
  • Severe disorganization
  • Speech problems
  • Tremors


Foods that increase dopamine levels naturally

In order to preserve dopamine levels there are foods you can incorporate into your diet to give it a boost. If you want to better protect yourself against the negative effects associated with low dopamine levels, consume more of the following foods in your diet.

  • Foods that increase dopamine levels naturallyProteins: chicken, eggs, beef
  • Vegetables: beets, avocados, artichokes
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, strawberries, prunes, blueberries
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds
  • Wheat germ
  • Herbs: red clover, ginseng, milk thistle, peppermint
  • Dark chocolate
  • Seaweed
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Fava beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Mustard greens

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