Nicotine was found to have protective effect against brain damages similar to Parkinson’s Disease. In primates lesioned with low doses of the dopaminergic neurotoxin MPTP, nicotine (in drinking water), nicotine treatment had reduced the cell damage by 25 percent.
While there is no immediate explanation for this effect, the researchers believe the nicotine may stimulate the release of naturally occurring proteins called growth factors that play a key role in nerve cell growth and repair. “It is also possible that the nicotine may activate the immune system to protect the cells from MPTP-induced damage,” said Quik.
According to the researchers, this results may explain why the incidence of Parkinson’s disease is about 50 percent less in smokers than in the general population. These results suggest that nicotine may be a potential therapy in the treatment of early-stage Parkinson’s patients.