Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A possible factor for early detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's has been identified.
Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland found that cytokine, which is an an early biomarker for latent neurodegenerative conditions, is induced by cellular stress reactions after disturbances of the mitochondria, the "cell's power plants." They published their findings Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.
Human cells normally function based on the coordinated interaction of different cellular organelles. But an impaired communication between these organelles will lead to the activation of a stress response to ensure affected cells' survival.
The researchers examined this situation in brain neurons.
Impairments on the level of mitochondria also affect neighboring organelles, such as the endoplasmic reticulum. Stress reaction leads to the release of fibroblast growth factor-21 by nerve cells with disturbed mitochondria.
The same substance is also induced in various models of neurodegenerative disorders before neuronal cell death.
Researchers believe FGF21 could potentially be suitable as a biomarker for the pre-symptomatic detection of diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, according to a University of Basel press release. But they noted that FGF21 can also be produced by other tissues and organs, such as adipose tissue and liver.
To analyze how cells recover from nutrient deprivation, they measured protein synthesis after nutrient deprivation for four and six hours.