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Sniffing Out Parkinson’s

September 22, 2011 By: Christine Buckley, CLAS Today, today.uconn.edu

A team of neuroscientists in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has mapped the brain’s nerve connections that help control the sense of smell, which could add another brain region to the list of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease.

“Scientists are very interested in the connectivity of the brain,” says Joanne Conover, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology. “The better we can define the neuron populations in the brain, the better we can grasp how they are targeted for degeneration in diseases like Parkinson’s.”

Conover’s graduate student Jessica Lennington led a study focused on one of the few parts of the brain that continues to produce new neurons from stem cells after embryonic development and throughout adulthood. The region, called the subventricular zone, or SVZ, is in the center of the brain and plays a role in controlling animals’ sense of smell.

Clinical studies show that patients with Parkinson’s disease often gradually lose their sense of smell as the disease progresses. Read the rest of the article here.

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