Parkinson’s disease (PD), a crippling and widespread neurodegenerative disease, is under investigation at institutes all over the world including the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
One of Erasmus’ fields of study is early-onset and familial Parkinson’s. Interestingly, while most cases of Parkinson’s are idiopatic, or sporadic PD, the disorder is called early-onset or young-onset when the individual is diagnosed before the age of 50. These patients are different from a scientific perspective.
Lopes da Fonseca and colleagues reported on an interesting point mutation that has been linked to cases of familial PD. Zebrafish also express this gene, and the study showed that it plays a crucial role in embryonic development.
Partial knockdown of this gene resulted in atypical behavior in 7 dpf larvae, as was measured in DanioVision using a light-dark-light paradigm (15-45-45 minutes).
The wild type group behaved as expected: with a decrease in velocity during the dark phase (and later, the initial drop), then movement increase after the light was turned on again. However, video tracking revealed the knockdown group showed a generally lower velocity and a relative increase in speed during the beginning of the dark phase.
Lopes da Fonseca, T.; Correia, A.; Hasselaar, W.; van der Linde, H.C.; Willemsen, R.; Outeiro, T.F. (2013). The zebrafish homologue of Parkinson's disease ATP13A2 is essential for embryonic survival. Brain Research Bulletin, 90, 118-126.