Disease Analysis: Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson's disease (PD) was first described on 1817 by James Parkinson (Dauer & Przedborski, 2003). PD is a progressive neuromuscular disorder. It has an average age of onset of about 55 years of age. The lifetime prevalence rate is about 0.15 percent, but the incidence of PD increases as people get older (American Psychiatric Association, 2004). The vast majority of PD cases are labeled as "sporadic Parkinson's disease" (cause unknown) but about five percent of PD cases are inherited (Dauer & Przedborski, 2003). Secondary Parkinsonism exists and is often a result of some drug (typically dopamine antagonists), hypoxia, or a brain tumor. While the cause of primary PD is has not been determined the neuropathology of PD is well understood. The midbrain contains the basal ganglia and the thalamus. Both of these have excitatory and inhibitory neural pathways that form two pathways: (1) and excitatory loop that is a direct path and (2) and inhibitory path that is indirect (Dauer & Przedborski, 2003). In PD there is initially a loss of dopamine producing neurons in the excitatory loop and the appearance of Lewy bodies throughout the brain. The loss of these dopaminergic neurons indicates that in PD the defining feature is a substantial decrease in the neurotransmitter dopamine (which occurs in the nirgrostriatal brain tract; (Dauer & Przedborski, 2003). Dopamine is produced in the brain in an area known as the substantia nigra and is transported along the neurons in the brain
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