Tobacco mosaic virus antibodies may protect against Parkinson’s disease

| April 5, 2013

A virus typically associated with tobacco, but also known to be present in spinach, tomatoes, petunias and other vegetables and household plants, may help protect people from Parkinson’s disease, according to a story in KyForward (Kentucky, U.S.) quoting a study by researchers at the University of Louisville’s departments of Neurology and Physiology.

The researchers’ findings, which were published in PLOS One, demonstrated that men who smoked had antibodies to the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), antibodies that might interact with a protein in a cell’s energy generation system to inhibit the development of Parkinson’s disease.

The research team analyzed the blood samples of 60 men: 20 smokers, 20 smokeless tobacco users and 20 non-tobacco users. The research found the highest levels of TMV antibodies in those who smoked.

“It is quite remarkable that a plant that creates so many health problems for people may harbor a virus that has a protective role for people,” said Robert Friedland, M.D, professor of neurology at the University of Louisville and the senior author of the study.

“We still have a significant amount of research to undertake to determine what mechanisms may be involved, the molecular pathways that are in play and much more. However, it is valuable to consider the potential implications of plant viruses to human health and disease.”

Category: Breaking News

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