Research ArticleParkinson’s Disease

The vermiform appendix impacts the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease

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Science Translational Medicine  31 Oct 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 465, eaar5280
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar5280

The benefits of a missing appendix

Misfolded α-synuclein is a pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Killinger et al. now report that the human appendix contains an abundance of misfolded α-synuclein and that removal of the appendix decreased the risk of developing PD. The appendix of both PD cases and healthy individuals contained abnormally cleaved and aggregated forms of α-synuclein, analogous to those found in postmortem brain tissue from patients with PD. Furthermore, α-synuclein derived from the appendix seeded rapid aggregation of recombinant α-synuclein in vitro. In two large-scale epidemiological studies, the authors demonstrated that an appendectomy occurring decades prior reduced the risk of developing PD, suggesting that the appendix may be implicated in PD initiation.

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