Why dopamine-containing neurons of the brain's substantia nigra pars compacta die in Parkinson's disease has been an enduring mystery. Our studies suggest that the unusual reliance of these neurons on L-type Ca(v)1.3 Ca2+ channels to drive their maintained, rhythmic pacemaking renders them vulnerable to stressors thought to contribute to disease progression. The reliance on these channels increases with age, as juvenile dopamine-containing neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta use pacemaking mechanisms common to neurons not affected in Parkinson's disease. These mechanisms remain latent in adulthood, and blocking Ca(v)1.3 Ca2+ channels in adult neurons induces a reversion to the juvenile form of pacemaking. Such blocking ('rejuvenation') protects these neurons in both in vitro and in vivo models of Parkinson's disease, pointing to a new strategy that could slow or stop the progression of the disease.
SciCrunch is a data sharing and display platform. Anyone can create a custom portal where they can select searchable subsets of hundreds of data sources, brand their web pages and create their community. SciCrunch will push data updates automatically to all portals on a weekly basis. User communities can also add their own data to scicrunch, however this is not currently a free service.