According to researchers, drug, nortriptyline, which has been used to treat depression and nerve pain, stopped the growth of abnormal proteins that can build up in the brain and lead to the development of the disease.
Lead author Tim Collier from the Michigan State University in the U.S. said that depression is a very frequent condition associated with Parkinson's, so we became interested in whether an antidepressant could modify how the disease progresses.
They examined previous patient data to see if individuals, who were on antidepressants experienced any delay in their need to go on a standard Parkinson's therapy called levodopa.
This type of therapy increases levels of dopamine, a natural chemical in the body that sends signals to other nerve cells and can significantly decrease in cases of Parkinson's.
The medication also treats many of the symptoms associated with the disease such as tremors and poor muscle control.
"We found that those on a certain class of antidepressant, called tricyclics, didn't need the levodopa therapy until much later compared to those who weren't on that type of antidepressant medication.
They tested rats with the tricyclic antidepressant nortriptyline and found that it indeed was able to decrease the amount of abnormal protein that can build up in the brain.
This protein, known as alpha-synuclein, can cause the brain's nerve cells to die when in a clustered state and is a hallmark sign of the disease.
"Proteins are constantly moving and changing shape," said Lapidus, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
By using a test tube model, they found that by adding nortriptyline to the alpha-synuclein proteins, they began to move and change shape much faster, preventing the proteins from clumping together.
Understanding how these proteins can clump together could point researchers in new directions and help them find other possible drugs that could potentially treat Parkinson's.
The research appears in in the journal Neurobiology of Disease.(ANI)