Project Details


Most people associate Parkinson’s with movement symptoms, but people with Parkinson’s also experience symptoms that don’t affect movement – such as pain, depression and anxiety. Around half of people with Parkinson’s have trouble with anxiety but we still don’t understand why it develops or the best way to treat it.

• Anxiety is a feeling of intense unease and can develop as a result of continuous emotional stress. Treatments are available for anxiety but they are often not as effective in people with Parkinson’s.

• A part of the brain called the locus coeruleus helps us to react and adapt to stressful situations. When someone is exposed to severe and persistent stress, it can stop this part of the brain from working properly. This can make it more difficult for someone to adapt to stressful situations and can lead to anxiety.

• Research suggests that clumps of protein that develop inside the brain cells that are affected in Parkinson’s are also found in cells in the locus coeruleus. These protein clumps – known as Lewy Bodies – could affect the way these brain cells work and explain why people with the condition are more likely to experience anxiety.

What the project will do
The researchers want to use a mouse model of Parkinson’s to understand the changes in the brain that could be linked to anxiety. We already know that these mice develop anxiety-like behaviours, which appear before movement symptoms.

As the locus coerulus is important for responding to stress, they want to look specifically at changes to the cells in this part of the brain that may be linked to anxiety. The team will study how these cells work with each other. They will then look for drugs that can reverse these changes in the brain and reduce anxiety-like behaviour in these mice.

How the research will help people with Parkinson’s
Most research to date has concentrated on treating the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s however in a recent survey of people affected by Parkinson’s and health professionals, ‘stress and anxiety’ was rated the second highest priority area of research for improving quality of life. This project will help us to understand what causes anxiety in people with Parkinson’s and lead us towards a new treatment for this symptom.
Effective start/end date1/10/1730/09/21


  • Alzheimer's Society: £87,606.89


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