帕金森之谜

约翰内斯堡—帕金森病是一种退行性精神障碍,影响着全球七百万人,其中美国就有一百万人,患者年龄通常高于50岁。帕金森病在65岁以上人群中患病率为2%,小于50岁人群的病例比例为5—10%。患病原因仍然不明,这使得我们无法掌握疾病的发展情况——尽管最新研究表明环境和职业因素很重要。

公元前1000年的中国和印度文档就描述了类似的症状。但第一个详细描述这种疾病的是1817年的詹姆斯·帕金森(James Parkinson)。帕金森病患者有行动迟缓、颤抖、僵硬、难以走动、不太不稳等症状。随着疾病的发展,思维也会受到影响,并造成行为和心理问题,包括痴呆、睡眠障碍、抑郁以及低血压。尽管这些症状中有许多可以减轻,但疗效常常随时间而减小。

这些症状出现的原因是制造多巴胺(一种神经递质)的脑细胞减少。许多研究表明这些细胞退化之前会出现其他大脑区域细胞甚至消化系统神经细胞的减少。这些症状会在行动不便产生之前几十年就已经开始。

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