Symptoms include stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.
It is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition and, currently, there is no cure. Modern treatments can only help manage symptoms.
Scientists do not understand why some people develop Parkinson’s disease, but others do not. However, they have unpicked some of the neurological changes that take place.
One of the most critical changes appears to be a buildup of a specific type of misfolded protein in the brain. This is known to trigger cell death, which eventually leads to the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
The protein in question is alpha-synuclein, which aggregates and joins up with other compounds to create so-called Lewy bodies.
Alpha-synuclein can pass from neuron to neuron, spreading damage across different regions of the brain.
Parkinson’s and coffee
Although caffeine appears to play a part in this, other molecules might be involved in the fight, too. In some studies, for instance, de-caffeinated coffee also offered protection against neurodegeneration in a model of Parkinson’s disease.
Coffee contains hundreds of compounds that could potentially interact with the chemistry of the body.
On the search for coffee components that might help slow Parkinson’s progression, researchers recently focused on a compound called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT).