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Does Parkinson’s Compromise Your Immune System

People Who Take Immunosuppressants Less Likely To Develop The Disease

Boost your immune system with CBD!

Washington University School of Medicine
A new study shows that people who take drugs that suppress the immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, which is characterized by difficulty with movement.

People who take drugs that suppress the immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The findings, published May 31 in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, suggest that a person’s own immune system helps nudge him or her down the path toward Parkinson’s. Restraining the immune system with drugs potentially could prevent the neurological disorder, which is characterized by tremors, slow movements, stiffness and difficulty walking.

“The idea that a person’s immune system could be contributing to neurologic damage has been suggested for quite some time,” said Brad Racette, MD, the Robert Allan Finke Professor of Neurology and the study’s senior author. “We’ve found that taking certain classes of immunosuppressant drugs reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s. One group of drugs in particular looks really promising and warrants further investigation to determine whether it can slow disease progression.”

Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease, affects about a million people in the United States. Its causes are not well-understood.

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A Confused Immune System Could Be Behind Parkinson’s Disease


Researchers have found solid evidence in support of a century old hypothesis claiming the body’s own immune system plays a strong role in the development of disease.

While it’s not clear if the discovery describes a primary cause or simply makes the existing condition worse, it could point the way to new forms of early diagnosis and ways to reduce the severity of its symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition affecting more than 10 million people worldwide, characterised by tremors, stiffness, and difficulty moving.

The symptoms are largely caused by a loss of neurons inside a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, cells that are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine.

Without this, the region can’t effectively filter messages from the brain to the body’s periphery, causing a ‘static hiss’ of movement in the muscles.

As far back as 1925 the immune system has been blamed for causing the damage to these brain cells, but since this would require white blood cells to cross the blood brain barrier – something which has long been considered unlikely – the hypothesis failed to attract much attention.

In 2014, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found markers called MHC proteins were displayed on the dopamine neurons, and that the immune system’s T-cells could recognise and attack the brain cells.

And we desperately need one – there is currently no way to diagnose Parkinson’s before the symptoms set in.

Molecular Mechanisms And Basic Science Evidence For The Role Of Infection In Pd

Much of the evidence associating PD with infections, whether viral or bacterial, is based on obser-vational studies demonstrating increased risk to develop the disease, rather than direct evidence of infection as a singular cause. In fact, due to the complexity and multifactorial etiology of PD, identifying a single point of initiation in human PD is often impossible. For this reason, and the impossibility of interventional studies in humans involving infectious agents, the use of preclinical animal models of PD may provide the clearest evidence for or against a role of infectious agents in the etiology of PD.

Mechanistically, what might be the link between the cells of the peripheral immune system and the innate immune system in the brain? One critical component functions through recognition of MHCII; a key antigen presenting protein . MHCII is critical for the presentation of antigen to both T-cells as well as microglial cells situated in the CNS . In regard to microglia, it is interesting to note that the SNpc contains the highest microglia:neuron ratio in the brain ; perhaps leading to its particular sensitivity to inflammation .

These observations provide plausible mechanisms to explain infection as either a susceptibility or cau-sative factor for PD. The hypothesized process by which infectious agents increase susceptibility to PD is summarized in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

Association Of Blood Cell And Inflammatory Traits With Incident Pd

Each 1-SD reduction in lymphocyte count was associated with an 18% increase in the odds of incident PD . There was some evidence that reductions in CRP, monocyte count, and eosinophil count were also associated with an increased risk of subsequent PD . There was also some evidence that a higher neutrophil count was associated with PD . We obtained similar results with a slight loss of precision in a matched case:control subset of the wider cohort .


Can I Still Exercise

7 ways to defy death

You definitely should continue to exercise. There are free exercise videos you can do at home. If you do not have any symptoms, you can walk outside, provided you maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet. This guideline may change at any time. Make sure to check with your local governing agencies. Here are some web-based or virtual classes you can consider participating in.

Syn And The Adaptive Immune Response In Pd

In the last few years, mounting evidence has pointed at a possible participation of the adaptive immune system in PD pathogenesis. However, whether this immune response actually contributes to neurodegeneration, and in that case by which mechanism, remains unknown. The initial observations in PD patients that a small amount of CD8+ T-lymphocytes occur in proximity to degenerating nigral neurons , and the occurrence in LB of components of the classical or antibody-triggered complement cascade had suggested a possible involvement of the adaptive immunity in the PD process. More recently, the finding of accumulated IgG in the SN of PD patients and increased expression of IgG-binding receptors on activated microglia , and the detection of anti-?Syn autoantibodies in blood serum of PD patients , suggest that the pathological process may involve adaptive immune-mediated mechanisms. In addition, the observation that humoral immune mechanisms can trigger microglial-mediated neuronal injury in animal models of PD , and the finding by Standaert and colleagues of IgG deposition in mouse brains following AAV-mediated ?Syn overexpression in the SN , further support a role of the adaptive immune system in disease progression.

Problems With The Immune System

The immune system protects our bodies from foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. There are a number of autoimmune conditions that are caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages healthy cells in the body.

Previous studies have suggested that certain genetic factors, which control how our immune system behaves, are linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s.

This research, for the first time, suggests that the immune system in people with Parkinson’s may respond to a protein called alpha synuclein, which is known to be involved in the condition.

The researchers suggest that changes in the alpha synuclein protein could activate the immune system, causing it to start attacking dopamine producing brain cells.

What Do I Need To Do If I Develop Symptoms Of Covid

If you develop symptoms, such as fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, isolate yourself immediately. If you live with other people, stay in one area of your house that is separate from the rest of the people in your household. If possible, have a designated bathroom for yourself. Separate your eating utensils.

You can call your healthcare provider so they can determine if you need to be tested for the virus or not. Do not just show up in your doctor’s office without notification. Your advance warning will help protect the members of the health team and other patients from the virus, and prepare in advance an isolation room for you. If your symptoms become more severe, such as increased shortness of breath, call the nearest emergency department.

What Does Immunocompromised Mean

Immunocompromised is a broad term which means that the immune system is weaker than expected and not functioning properly.

The immune system is made up of an army of different types of cells all working to protect you against bacteria, viruses, and other things that might cause infection. When this system isn’t functioning properly, the body is much more susceptible to illness.

However, it’s possible to be immunocompromised to different degrees.

Being immunocompromised isn’t a light switch that’s either on or off — it functions on a spectrum, more like a dimmer.

If someone is slightly immunocompromised, they may be more likely to catch the common cold. Others who are severely immunocompromised may catch the common cold and find it’s life-threatening.

Being immunocompromised can be temporary or permanent. In many cases, such as during cancer treatment, the immune system can recover after some time. If the offending cause is removed, the immune system may recover back to a healthy state.

Alternatively, being immunocompromised may be permanent, as is the case with many congenital diseases.

How long your immune system remains weakened depends on the cause.

There are a few ways to help determine if you have a compromised immune system.

You may become sick more frequently or for longer periods compared to other healthy people.

There are different blood tests available to help measure the function of the immune system, including ones that check your white blood cell count and .

Specialized Immune Cells May Improve Early Detection Of Parkinsons Disease

Melissa Rohman

Jennifer Goldman, ’98 MD, MS, professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Section Chief of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, was a co-author of the study published in Nature Communications.

An elevated presence of specialized immune cells called alpha-synuclein reactive T-cells were found in patients prior to developing motor symptoms and receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that increased reactivity of these cells may be present long before clinical diagnosis, according to a recent study in Nature Communications.

The findings may be used to improve early detection of Parkinson’s disease by indicating increased reactivity of the cells prior to the appearance of motor symptoms and clinical diagnosis, as well as help understand the role of the immune system and inflammation in the pathogenesis of the disease.

“Early detection of Parkinson’s disease, in its prodromal or early clinically symptomatic stages, provides an opportunity to intervene at its earliest stages and potentially affect disease progression or disease symptomatology. These findings may ultimately lead to novel treatments for Parkinson’s disease that modulate the immune system,” said Jennifer Goldman, ’98 MD, MS, professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of and a co-author of the study.

Scientists Link Immune Cells To Parkinson’s Disease Onset

La Jolla Institute for Immunology
A new study adds increasing evidence that Parkinson’s disease is partly an autoimmune disease. In fact, the researchers report that signs of autoimmunity can appear in Parkinson’s disease patients years before their official diagnosis.

A new study co-led by scientists at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology adds increasing evidence that Parkinson’s disease is partly an autoimmune disease. In fact, the researchers report that signs of autoimmunity can appear in Parkinson’s disease patients years before their official diagnosis.

The research could make it possible to someday detect Parkinson’s disease before the onset of debilitating motor symptoms — and potentially intervene with therapies to slow the disease progression.

The study, published in the April 20, 2020, issue of Nature Communications, was co-led by LJI professor Alessandro Sette, Dr. Biol. Sci, and Professor David Sulzer, Ph.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center.

Scientists have long known that clumps of a damaged protein called alpha-synuclein build up in the dopamine-producing brain cells of patients with Parkinson’s disease. These clumps eventually lead to cell death, causing motor symptoms and cognitive decline.

The researchers hope to study more Parkinson’s patients and follow them over longer time periods to better understand how T cell reactivity changes as the disease progresses.

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Top Questions And Answers On Covid

Since the coronavirus pandemic is currently part of our daily lives, the Parkinson’s Foundation is addressing the top questions about the virus and Parkinson’s disease . On March 18, 2020 Michael S. Okun, MD, Parkinson’s Foundation Medical Director, and Fred Southwick, MD, Infectious Disease Expert and Author, both from the University of Florida Health, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, answered the top COVID-19 questions from our community. View the event recording now. Of course, our Helpline Specialists, 1-800-4PD-INFO, are here to assist you with any other questions that are not covered here.

FAQ on COVID-19 and PD:

Expert COVID-19 Prevention Advice for people with Parkinson’s:

1. Are people with Parkinson’s more at risk of developing COVID-19?

Those living with Parkinson’s disease are in a “high risk group,” this includes all ages. We are learning that COVID-19 tends to be more severe in the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Currently, there is no evidence that a PD diagnosis makes you more vulnerable to contracting illness. The best advice for those with PD is prevention.

2. Do people with PD have a compromised immune system?

In short, those with PD have an intact immune system that functions well. We believe that in general the Parkinson’s disease immune system functions at a high level and is similar to the immune system in those without Parkinson’s.

3. Should I get the pneumonia vaccine?

4. Are people with PD more prone to lung issues?

What You Need To Know About Fungal Infections

6 Foods That Can Help You Fight a Cold or Flu

Fungal infections can range from mild to life-threatening. Some fungal infections are mild skin rashes, but others can have serious complications. Because of this, it’s important for you to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid serious infection.

Fungal infections can look like bacterial or viral infections. If you’re taking medicine to fight an infection and you aren’t getting better, ask your doctor about testing you for a fungal infection.

Where you live matters. Some disease-causing fungi are more common in certain parts of the world. If you live in or visit these areas and are taking medications that weaken the immune system, you’re more likely to get these infections than the general population., , For more information on travel-related illnesses, please see the CDC Traveler’s Health site.

The length of your treatment matters. Your healthcare provider can prescribe corticosteroids for short-term use or long-term use . Long-term corticosteroid use is more likely to increase your chance of getting a fungal infection.

Amount of medication . Higher doses of medications that weaken your immune system are more likely to increase your risk of getting a fungal infection., , ,

Evidence For Peripheral Immune Activation In Parkinsons Disease

  • 1Department of Neurology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
  • 2Division of Clinical Immunology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

Background: Accumulating evidence has revealed that peripheral immunity is involved in Parkinson’s disease . However, the results regarding the percentage of T-cell subsets are inconsistent, and the changes of immunoglobins levels have been seldom studied in PD patients.

Methods: Serum levels of the percentage of T-cell subsets and immunoglobulins were measured in 761 PD patients and 761 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. The correlations between the variables of peripheral immune activation and the clinical characteristics of PD were analyzed using correlation analysis.

Results: The pooled results showed that PD patients had higher proportional levels of CD3+ T and CD4+ T lymphocytes than healthy controls. CD8+ T cell percentages were similar in PD patients and controls, and the CD4/CD8 ratio was significantly higher in the PD population. No significant differences in IgG, IgA, or IgM levels between these two groups were found. CD4+ T cell percentage was inversely correlated with the H&Y stage, and IgG level was positively correlated with disease duration and UPDRS part III. Subgroup analyses showed that these associations existed in female patients, but not in male patients.

Tantalizing New Studies Point To A Potential Treatment

Parkinson’s is a remorseless, incurable disease that causes stiffness, tremors, difficulty walking, and . People suffering from the disease have a loss of nerve cells in an area of the mid-brain called the substantia nigra. Latin names always sound impressive, but this one just means “black stuff.” When you dissect it, the substantia nigra looks like an ink stain — unless there’s Parkinson’s, and then it’s as pale as the surrounding tissue. That’s due to the loss of neurons that produce . As a consequence of this die-off, Parkinson’s patients have a deficit of dopamine in the mid-brain.

Jacking up levels of dopamine can help, but — like most neurotransmitters — dopamine can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. That means that you can’t simply pop a dopamine pill. Instead, in the 1960s, Arvid Carlsson found that a precursor to dopamine, called L-dopa, could cross the blood-brain barrier and help with symptoms of Parkinson’s. It’s not a perfect drug. The stereotypical motions of many Parkinson’s patients, called dyskinesia, are due to L-dopa, not the disease. It is difficult to properly calibrate the dosage, and patients often teeter between catatonia and dyskinesia.

The Immune System Remains Changed For Many Years Even After A Hepatitis C Infection Heals According To A New Study By Karolinska Institutet Sweden And Hannover Medical School Germany

The hepatitis C virus poses a major health problem globally and, when the immune system fails to fight the virus, can lead to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. This results in the immune system becoming exhausted.

However, over recent years, most patients with hepatitis C can now be cured of the virus in just a few weeks thanks to revolutionary new medications.

Medications That Weaken Your Immune System And Fungal Infections

Overall, most serious fungal infections are rare, but they do happen. They are most common among people with weak immune systems. People with certain health conditions may need to take medications with side effects that can weaken your immune system and put you at risk for fungal infections.

Specifically, corticosteroids and TNF inhibitors are two types of medications that can increase your chances of getting a fungal infection.

  • Corticosteroids are medications that treat conditions including , , allergic reactions, and autoimmune diseases such as , sarcoidosis, or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • TNF inhibitors are medications that treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, , and inflammatory bowel disease.

Some fungal infections can be serious, such as:


Etiology Of Parkinsons Disease: Current Concepts

Numerous genetic and environmental factors have been associated with Parkinson’s disease , which is thought to be caused by a complex interplay of multiple factors unique to an individual. In the past decade, the number of known genetic risk factors has greatly increased with 90 risk alleles now identified . However, these known loci account for only approximately 20%of PD risk , leaving a substantial proportion of PD unexplained on the bases of currently known genetic associations. There is an urgent need to identify the missing etiologic fraction, to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies.

There is consistent or mostly consistent evidence for several environmental associations with risk of PD and a large number of associations with less consistent evidence spanning multiple categories, including dietary factors, chemical exposures, physical and emotional trauma . One of the more controversial categories of risk factors is infection, bacterial or viral.

Immunocompromised: How To Know If You Have A Weakened Immune System

Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP

If you have a compromised immune system, you can take actions to protect yourself and stay healthy.

Do you notice you’re often sick with a cold, or maybe your cold lasts a really long time?

Being constantly sick can be concerning and frustrating, and you might wonder if your immune system is functioning properly. But how do you know if your immune system is weaker than it should be?

It’s important to understand what might weaken the immune system and what you can do to stay as healthy as possible.

Bacterial Infections And Pd Risk

The ample spectrum of bacteria that may acutely or permanently infect the tissues of humans has been associated with the development and, to a lesser extent, with the progression of PD. Bacterial production of pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic factors might play a major role in the development and/or in the cascade of neurotoxic events leading to degeneration. One key player in such events is the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide . LPS stimulates production of several inflammatory factors that may contribute to neurodegeneration. Tumor necrosis factor-? is released from microglia; nitric oxide is released by microglia and astrocytes in and there is hyperproduction of prostagladins. All of these phenomena may lead to neurodegeneration and gliosis . Given that LPS is the endotoxin of Gram-negative bacteria, theoretically, every Gram-negative infection can induce a cascade that could trigger PD; however, the evidence on bacteria is limited to a number of specific organisms.

Notably, there is minimal evidence for associations between more severe infection such as sepsis and the future risk of PD. A recently published case-control study reported that there was no association between severe infections that required hospitalization and sepsis and the risk of PD later in life . However, it is not yet clear whether an infectious condition proximate to the onset of PD or before the onset of PD can trigger or lower the threshold for the upcoming neurodegenerative process.

How Do You Get Crohns Disease

Dandruff: What are the causes? Is it contagious?

Although the scientific jury is still out, clues to the roots of Crohn’s are starting to add up. Experts point to a likely combination of factors, including changes in the immune system, genetics, environmental triggers, and a possible imbalance in the microbiome, or gut flora, known as dysbiosis. Let’s look at these factors one by one.

New Evidence That The Immune System Can Be Activated In Parkinsons

All Science News articles summarize a research study and are not an official opinion, endorsement or position of the Parkinson’s Foundation’s.

A new study funded in part by the Parkinson’s Foundation shows how the loss of brain neurons in Parkinson’s disease could, in part, result from an attack by a person’s own immune system.  Furthermore, the researchers link this attack to alpha-synuclein – the protein that forms toxic clumps in the brain cells of people with PD.  The results appear in the June 21 online edition of Nature.

In autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks and kills specific cells in the body that are mistakenly labeled or “flagged” as foreign.  The cells actually have a molecular flag, indicating that they are foreign. The “flag” is called an antigen, and the flagpole an MHC.


  • About a third of people with PD had immune-related DNA risk factors  previously linked to PD, compared to 15 percent of healthy individuals.
  • Scientists identified two specific pieces of the alpha-synuclein protein that caused the immune cells to respond.
  • Immune system cells from people with PD more often recognized specific peptides, or pieces, of alpha-synuclein.

What Does it Mean?


Sulzer D, Alcalay RN, Garretti F, et al. . T Cells from Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Recognize ?-Synuclein Peptides.  Nature doi:10.1038/nature22815

Tests And Dosage Changes

During your treatment with immunosuppressant drugs, you’ll have regular blood tests. These tests help your doctor monitor how effective the drugs are and whether dosage changes are needed. The tests will also help your doctor know whether the drugs cause side effects for you.

If you have an autoimmune disease, your doctor may adjust your dosage based on how your condition responds to the medication.

If you’ve received an organ transplant, your doctor may eventually reduce your dosage. This is because the risk of organ rejection lessens over time, so the need for these medications may decrease.

However, most people who have had a transplant will need to take at least one immunosuppressant drug throughout their lifetime.

If A Patient With Parkinsons Displays Signs And Symptoms Of Covid

Take precautions and adhere to social distancing including keeping family members at a distance whenever possible.  Stay in your own room when able and use your own bathroom. Use your own cooking utensils, plates, knives, and forks.  Maintain good nutrition and keep hydrated.  Follow your temperature closely.  If your condition worsens, contact the hospital and ER for instructions before going guidelines)


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