Alpha-synuclein gene has been linked to increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Beta-2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) agonists compound that can the reduce levels of the alpha-synuclein gene has been identified by Suchi Mittal and colleagues.
‘Beta-2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) agonist drugs could suppress alpha-synuclein gene expression, which is linked to Parkinson’s disease.’
Alpha-synuclein accumulates in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, forming protein clumps called Lewy bodies that are a hallmark of the disease. Researchers have looked for ways to clear alpha-synuclein from the brain and treat its effects, but Mittal et al. searched instead for ways to target its underlying gene and to possibly prevent or delay the disease process.
After screening more than a thousand drugs and natural compounds, the research team identified β2AR agonist drugs as potent suppressors of alpha-synuclein gene expression.
They also did the painstaking work of combing through the health records of more than 4 million Norwegians over 11 years, and discovered a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease among people who used the β2AR agonist salbutamol, usually prescribed for asthma.
Conversely, the risk of the disease was increased among patients who took the drug propranolol (a drug that promotes alpha-synuclein expression) for hypertension. The findings, including the data from Norway, suggest that “widely used β2AR agonists should be rigorously tested in PD patients,” writes Evan Snyder in a related Perspective.