WEDNESDAY, March 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Swiss scientists have made a discovery that they say contributes to the understanding of the axon loss that occurs in people with neurodegenerative disorders.
They found that, in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease, a spontaneous dominant mutation called slow Wallerian degeneration (Wlds) provides a protective effect on axons, which are fibers that transmit electric neural impulses from nerve cells.
Previous research found Wlds is associated with the protection of axons from a process called peripheral Wallerian degeneration. That refers to degeneration of axons caused by a physical injury that disconnects the axons from nerve cell bodies.
The Wlds mutation leads to the formation of an abnormal fusion protein. The molecular effects of this protein aren't well understood. But the Wlds mutation's protective effect on axons suggests it may hold answers about developing new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders.
The study was published in a recent issue of Current Biology.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Parkinson's disease.