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FEBS J. 2012 Apr;279(7):1167-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08518.x. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Brain banks as key part of biochemical and molecular studies on cerebral cortex involvement in Parkinson's disease.

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Brain Bank Consultants, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Exciting developments in basic and clinical neuroscience and recent progress in the field of Parkinson's disease (PD) are partly a result of the availability of human specimens obtained through brain banks. These banks have optimized the methodological, managerial and organizational procedures; standard operating procedures; and ethical, legal and social issues, including the code of conduct for 21st Century brain banking and novel protocols. The present minireview focuses on current brain banking organization and management, as well as the likely future direction of the brain banking field. We emphasize the potentials and pitfalls when using high-quality specimens of the human central nervous system for advancing PD research. PD is a generalized disease in which α-synuclein is not a unique component but, instead, is only one of the players accounting for the complex impairment of biochemical/molecular processes involved in metabolic pathways. This is particularly important in the cerebral cortex, where altered cognition has a complex neurochemical substrate. Mitochondria and energy metabolism impairment, abnormal RNA, microRNA, protein synthesis, post-translational protein modifications and alterations in the lipid composition of membranes and lipid rafts are part of these complementary factors. We have to be alert to the possible pitfalls of each specimen and its suitability for a particular study. Not all samples qualify for the study of DNA, RNA, proteins, post-translational modifications, lipids and metabolomes, although the use of carefully selected samples and appropriate methods minimizes pitfalls and errors and guarantees high-quality reserach.

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