Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a multifaceted affliction of the central nervous system which was named after the English physician James Parkinson, who first described the condition in 1817. Mainly known for its disturbances in motor function, other symptoms include emotional withdrawal, dementia, sensory misperceptions, depression and vegetative impairment.

Apart from classical idiopathic PD with its typical one-sided onset of motor signs such as tremor, stiffness and akinesia, PD-like symptomatics are frequently related to other conditions such as multisystem atrophia or brain tumors, or caused by certain medications.

The basal functionality of dopamine metabolism seems perturbed in PD. Dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra of basal ganglia deteriorate and dopamine levels are reduced. Since dopamine is also implicated in addictive behavior and psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, the compound may be able to influence several essential behavioral control circuits.

PD symptoms can be treated by medication that restores dopamine levels in the brain to some extent, but the disease cannot be cured. Research concentrates on the development of animal models, particularly to elucidate the effects of proposed gene therapies. These animal models resemble one or several of the symptoms of the disease. By thorough characterization of their properties, their use to discern effects of treatments may be elucidated.

Mouse models showing the characteristic tremor and other motor deficits can be conveniently studied with our new MotoRater system, as well as with Rotarod, complex Running Wheel as incorporated in the PhenoMaster, or locomotor activity analysis paradigms, also available for the PhenoMaster system.

Sleep disturbance often associated with Parkinsons disease can be characterized with the help of the Neurologger EEG data logging system.

Since a large proportion of PD patients also suffer from depression, animal model paradigms important in this respect include learned helplessness as included in the Multi Conditioning System, the tail suspension test, and the Porsolt forced swim test.