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What Can Genome-wide Pleiotropy Teach Us About Parkinson Disease and Autoimmune Disorders?


Photo: CC--Peter Shanks

Celiac.com 08/01/2017 - Although autoimmune disorders are not widely associated with Parkinson disease, there is increasing evidence for a link between immunity and neurodegenerative disorders. Indeed, both innate and adaptive immunity have been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders.

A team of researchers recently set out to examine the connection between immunity and neurodegenerative disorders.

The research team included Nikolaus R. McFarland, MD, PhD; Karen N. McFarland, PhD; and Todd E. Golde, MD, PhD. They are variously associated with the Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, the McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, and the Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.

One of the more interesting examples the researchers examined is TREM2, a member of the immunoglobulin receptor superfamily that expresses itself in microglia and tissue macrophages, and which has gene variants associated increased Alzheimer ’s risk.

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They also took a look at other TREM2 variants that are linked to the development of polycystic lipomembranous osteodysplasia with sclerosing leukoencephalopathy, a dementia associated with bone cystic lesions.

Another example with less clear biological significance is the reproducible genetic association between a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the locus and type 1 diabetes.

We are at the very beginning of a research effort to better understand the connection between immunity and neurodegenerative disorders. It may take a while, but the results of these efforts will likely help researchers design better diagnostic and treatment regimes.

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