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June 21, 2016 at 9:37 pm #25162
The natural molecule, n-acetylcysteine (NAC), with strong antioxidant effects, shows potential benefit as part of the management for patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE. Combining clinical evaluations of a patient’s mental and physical abilities with brain imaging studies that tracked the levels of dopamine, the lack of which is thought to cause Parkinson’s, doctors from the Departments of Integrative Medicine, Neurology, and Radiology, at Thomas Jefferson University showed that patients receiving NAC improved on both measures.
The evaluation consisted of standard clinical measures such as the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), a survey administered by doctors to help determine the stage of disease, and a brain scan via DaTscan SPECT imaging, which measures the amount of dopamine transporter in the basal ganglia, the area most affected by the Parkinson’s disease process. Compared to controls, the patients receiving NAC had improvements of 4-9 percent in dopamine transporter binding and also had improvements in their UPDRS score of about 13 percent.
Quote above excerpted from Thomas Jefferson University Press Release: http://www.jefferson.edu/university/news/2016/06/16/Natural-Molecule-Could-Improve-Parkinsons.html
Full Study reference: DA Monti, et al., “N-Acetyl Cysteine May Support Dopamine Neurons in Parkinson’s Disease: Preliminary Clinical and Cell Line Data,” PLOS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157602 , 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157602
Observations: This was a very limited study of only 23 patients over a period of just 3 months. 12 patients received NAC (some days via IV, some days orally), while 11 did not and were used as a control group. The patients receiving NAC had improvements of 4-9 percent in dopamine transporter binding (tested via DaTscan imaging), and had improvements in their UPDRS score of about 13 percent.
The study was not double blind, participants knew whether or not they were receiving NAC. The UPDRS score improvements could possibly be placebo effect. But the changes observed via DaTscan are interesting, and significant. In at least one case, they were particularly significant:
one particularly responsive patient (A) shows a substantial increase in dopamine transporter binding in the basal ganglia (arrows)
Personally, I’ve been taking NAC orally for about 18 months, 600mg 2x per day, because of prior research (see the links referenced in the study), and in the interest of raising my glutathione levels. I hope this pilot study will lead to more detailed studies, covering longer timeframes.
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