Coffee, Smoking and Female Gender; New insights in protection against Parkinson’s disease? A closer look at Parkinson and neuroprotective factors
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an age-related progressive disease with symptoms like tremor and bradykinesia. The major pathological hallmark of PD is degradation of dopaminergic (DA) neurons but the mechanism is still not clear. It is believed that inter-related processes like oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, depletion of endogenous antioxidants, reduced expression of trophic factors and dysfunction of protein degradation are involved in the cascade of events that will lead to DA neuron death. Age-standardized incidence rates of PD in population-based studies in European countries and the USA range from 8.6 to 19.0 per 100,000 inhabitants when strict diagnostic criteria of PD are applied. When looking at PD incidence rates in different gender, men are more susceptible for PD than women. It is thought that in developing countries PD is less common than in developed countries because of medical care, and shorter average lifespan. But because there are no good records of PD patients in e.g., the African continent, it is difficult to estimate incidence rates of PD and to compare these with incidence rates in developed countries. Until now there is still no cure for PD, the available medication and surgery can only provide relief from symptoms. Although there is no cure for PD, scientists found some striking evidence that nicotine, caffeine and estrogens have neuroprotective effects on PD. This thesis went deeper into the subject of neuroprotective factors in PD, how and why these protective factors work (what are their mechanisms) what is already known and how these factors can (possibly) contribute to therapies and the protection against PD. The neuroprotective factors are discussed in particular, are nicotine, caffeine and estrogens and their restriction to gender. From this literature based study it can be concluded that the specific neuroprotective factors are gender related and that they can provide new potential strategies for the protection against PD. The mechanisms, targets and genetic influences of these neuroprotective agents deserve further investigation.