Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement. It is often characterized by tremors. Researchers have now found a link between a class of drugs used to treat diabetes and protection against PD. The study conducted by Dr. Ruth Brauer, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found a lower incidence of PD among patients using a glitazone drug (either rosiglitazone or pioglitazone) to treat diabetes when compared to patients who had used different treatments for diabetes.
The study findings are consistent with animal and in vitro studies which suggested that glitazones and other drugs that target peroxisome proliferation-activated receptor gamma may have neuroprotective effects. It is important to note that these findings may not apply to people without diabetes and do not indicate whether glitazones can slow PD progression.
Further, there is also a possibility that unknown patient characteristics associated with glitazone use might also be linked to PD, contributing to the appearance of a direct causal connection. Besides, glitazones have been associated with serious side effects. However, the researchers are hopeful that these findings may pave the way towards other treatments that target the same pathway.
The study appears in PLOS Medicine.