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Another Parkinson's disease related project in the lab explores the role of environment in neuroprotection. In the past year, we have shown that exposure to an "enriched environment" (being a complex combination of inanimate and social stimulation and physical exercise), provides complete protection of neurons from these previously toxic insults. By dissecting the components of the EE, we have shown that animals raised in an exercise-alone environment have a complete neuroprotection. In addition, we have found that the same levels of neuroprotection can be conferred to adult animals raised in an EE. Mechanistically, we have found using real-time PCR that BDNF mRNA is increased in young animals raised in an EE; however, GDNF is increased in adult animals. We are currently investigating this switch in neurotrophin dependence.
Last update: April 2003