New Possibility to Prevent And Treat Parkinson’s Disease With Licorice Extract

Source: DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

Summary: Researchers have found a new mechanism to stop dopaminergic neuronal apoptosis, a possible approach for the prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of dopaminergic neurons (dopamine-producing neurons) in a specific area of the brain (substantia nigra). Higher incidence of PD is observed in people aged 60 or older with symptoms – tremor, stiffness, slow motion and postural instability. Regarding cell death process, in vivo cell, stress and damages activate Poly ADP-ribose polymerase-1 (PARP-1) and induce accumulation of excessive Poly ADP-ribose (PAR), all these activities activate apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) which causes cell death. Researchers from Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology have identified a new mechanism to stop dopaminergic neuronal apoptosis. The research findings are published in the journal Oncotarget.

Parkinsons treatment with liquiritigenin

Senior researcher Yun-Il Lee of DGIST Well Aging Research Center. Credit: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)

There are no government-approved drugs which can inhibit dopaminergic neuronal cell death. Moreover, current medications help to just alleviate the PD symptoms. The research team found a new candidate compound in licorice. They identified the mechanism where cortisol (a stress hormone) promotes dopaminergic neuronal activity by inducing expression of parkin protein that inhibits dopamine neuronal cell death. In this study, researchers have found candidate drugs which induce RNF146 protein expression, involved in the inhibition of neuronal cell death through a high-speed mass screening technique. The study confirmed that liquiritigenin licorice extract induces the RNF146 protein expression. Consequently, it has been scientifically proved that liquiritigenin can be used to treat the neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease.

Dopamine neuronal cell death Inhibition

Mechanism of inhibition of dopamine neuronal cell death by Liquiritigenin. Credit: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)

Dr. Yun-Il Lee stated “Neuronal death is involved in a variety of signaling systems in vivo. Therefore, it is essential to identify a new mechanism that is able to control the system comprehensively and we have found additional possibilities in licorice extract.” and further added, “I would like to contribute to the treatment of degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease by conducting advanced researches, comprehensive research and clinical studies.”

More Information: Hyojung Kim et al, “Estrogen receptor activation contributes to RNF146 expression and neuroprotection in Parkinson’s disease models”, Oncotarget(2017). DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.21828

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