• aggregate

    A whole formed by the combination of several elements. In Parkinson’s there is a clumping of many proteins inside nerve cells (known as neurons) including alpha-synuclein. Lewy bodies are a kind of aggregate found in Parkinson's.
  • agonist

    A chemical or drug that can activate a neurotransmitter receptor. Dopamine agonists, such as pramipexole, ropinirole, bromocriptine and apomorphine, are used in the treatment of Parkinson's.
  • alpha-synuclein

    A protein that is primarily found in nerve cells (neurons); in their cell body, their nucleus and their terminals. The accumulation and aggregation of this protein is a pathologic finding in Parkinson's. The first genetic mutation found in Parkinson's was discovered in the gene for alpha-synuclein (SNCA), and is called PARK1. Alpha-synuclein appears to play a key role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's. Read more.
  • astrocytes

    Major support cells in the brain. Among other things, they secrete growth factors that help nerve cells (or neurons) grow and communicate.
  • autophagy

    The segregation and disposal of damaged organelles within a cell. This is a normal physiological process in the body. It maintains normal functioning by protein degradation and turnover of the destroyed cell organelles for new cell formation. During cellular stress the process of autophagy is increased.  Dysfunctional autophagy can lead to the build up of damaged organelles and misfolded proteins in the cell.

With thanks to World Parkinson’s Coalition.