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Brain Pathol. 2013 Mar;23(2):154-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2012.00628.x. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Vascular degeneration in Parkinson's disease.

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Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Vascular degeneration plays a significant role in contributing to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Our understanding of the vascular components in Parkinson's disease (PD) is however limited. We have examined the vascular morphology of human brain tissue from both PD and the control cases using immunohistochemical staining and image analysis. The degenerative morphology seen in PD cases included the formation of endothelial cell "clusters," which may be contributed by the fragmentation of capillaries. When compared to the control cases, the capillaries of PDs were less in number (P < 0.001), shorter in length (P < 0.001) and larger in diameter (P < 0.01) with obvious damage to the capillary network evidenced by less branching (P < 0.001). The level of degeneration seen in the caudate nucleus was also seen in the age-matched control cases. Vessel degeneration associated with PD was, however, found in multiple brain regions, but particularly in the substantia nigra, middle frontal cortex and brain stem nuclei. The data suggest that vascular degeneration could be an additional contributing factor to the progression of PD. Thus, treatments that prevent vascular degeneration and improve vascular remodeling may be a novel target for the treatment of PD.

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