Parkinson’s disease often runs in families and some of the genes responsible have been identified. One is called PINK1. A new fruit fly model uses fruit flies with a similar genetic defect.
Patrik Verstreken and his team used fruitflies with a genetic defect in PINK1 or Parkin that is similar to the one associated with Parkinson’s. They found that the flies with a PINK1 or Parkin mutation lost their ability to fly.
Upon closer examination, they discovered that the mitochondria in these flies were defective, just as in Parkinson’s patients. Because of this they generated less intracellular energy – energy the insects needed to fly. When the flies were given vitamin K2, the energy production in their mitochondria was restored and the insects’ ability to fly improved. The researchers were also able to determine that the energy production was restored because the vitamin K2 had improved electron transport in the mitochondria. This in turn led to improved energy production.
The obvious conclusion is that some Parkinson’s patients may benefit from eating more Vitamin K2. Less obvious and less certain is that our diets contained more K2 in the past (so that the various genes that now cause Parkinson’s were rendered harmless). Warren Buffet famously said about risk exposure: “”It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked”. Likewise, changes in diet (such as reduction in K2 intake) expose disease-causing genes. I have made this point several times. It is counter-intuitive that disease-gene linkages suggest bad environmental changes.
Thanks to Melissa McEwen.