Although the causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are yet unknown, the overall health of the body likely plays a major role in disease initiation and progression. However, maintenance and/or restoration of normal systemic activity have been largely overlooked by current pharmaceutical treatments — an approach that has led to a scarcity of effective disease-modifying therapies. This project aims to expand the focus of PD therapeutics by evaluating a mushroom-based medical food (ErgoD2®) as an alternative or companion treatment for PD.
This project will test whether treatment with ErgoD2® medical food improves several known indicators of PD, including alpha-synuclein levels and markers of mitochondrial activity. In parallel, these studies will measure levels of other factors central to normal brain function such as elemental iron, internal antioxidants and regulators of the neuroimmune response. The majority of the proposed experiments will involve immunostaining, a process in which commercially available antibodies are used to find and visualize specific proteins. Using multicolor antibody identification tags, proteins will be evaluated in functional groups of two or three — an approach that will allow direct comparison of different proteins in the disease state and aid in establishing correlation between them.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
By investigating multiple indicators of brain function, the project will ensure comprehensive evaluation of the processes that may contribute to initiation and progression of PD. In addition, this study will provide insight into the viability of a natural food-based treatment.
If successful, our findings will demonstrate the importance of systems-level analysis of chronic disease as well as identify a potential treatment that can address multiple systemic dysfunctions simultaneously. Moreover, the large and diverse dataset obtained from these studies will be analyzed using sophisticated computer analysis that can elucidate important but previously overlooked trends in chronic disease. Identification of such trends will be vital to development of effective treatments.
The project set out to measure multiple markers implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the interaction between them. While the majority of data collection and analysis is still underway, several key trends illustrating the potential efficacy of ErgoD2® Medical Food in treating early-stage PD were identified. For example, total alpha-synuclein levels seemed to increase in the midbrain of ErgoD2-treated pre-clinical models, as did the ratio of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein : total alpha-synuclein, suggesting an improvement in the balance between normal and neurotoxic alpha-synuclein. Preliminary metals analysis in three brain regions revealed a decrease in iron levels in the brainstem – a brain region implicated in early-stage PD – as well as a decrease in the cortex of male pre-clinical models following treatment with ErgoD2®. Importantly, ErgoD2® treatment stimulated an expected decrease in the dedicated Ergothioneine Transporter, illustrating adequate delivery of Ergothioneine into the brain tissues. Preliminary results also suggest that gender influences effect size, which will be incorporated into interpretation of the final study outcome. Additional evaluation of markers for tissue damage and inflammation is ongoing.