Inflammation and Parkinson’s disease

Hello, my name is Yong Hwan Kim, and I’m a rising senior at the college. This summer, I will be investigating how the microglia-mediated brain inflammatory response affects the development of Parkinson’s disease(PD).

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by neuronal cell death by apoptosis  in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra.  Despite the association of neuronal cell death with microglia-mediated brain inflammatory response, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

Inflammation is the self-defensive reaction against various viral infection and foreign proteins. Inflammation is a crucial protective mechanism of our body and initiates the healing process. It is an essential part of healthy cells to maintain inflammatory response at normal level since chronic inflammation damages tissues. There is increasing evidence that suggests chronic inflammation is a trigger to a number of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease where microglia, the resident innate immune cells play a major role in the brain inflammatory response.

The goal of my research is to visually design and simulate the biochemical pathways of microglia-mediated inflammation in PD using computer programs. Currently, one of Dr.Coleman’s research groups is in the process of analyzing the models which consist of cases of interactions between various components associated with PD. I will try to make connections between various factors in this research by using a theoretical approach as outlined in work from Coleman’s lab in an earlier publication.

By doing this research, I will have a better understanding how various components interact with each other to create the dynamics of the system. I believe understanding these mechanisms is important and will be useful to find therapeutic targets because regulating a pathway that causes abnormal inflammatory response may be a highly effective way to treat PD. I hope the model of the microglia-mediated brain inflammatory response model will give further insight into the role of microglia-mediated inflammation in PD and provide highly effective and cost effective means to evaluate system responses to various conditions that are hypothesized by researchers and scholars in this field.

I am very excited about this research and I am looking forward to being in Williamsburg this summer!

-Yong Hwan


  1. michael mount says:

    i am a 66 year old retired dentist (11 years ago as a result of parkinsons) . i am a firm believer in the connection between inflammation and parkinson . it just seemed that the inflammation found in autopsies could just as well be the cause of parkinsons and not the result of it. i can even see a scenario where chronic nasal alergys might cause inflammation that could eventually reach the brain.
    the same is true of pesticides etc .i t seemed logical that the assaults on the brain via the olfactory mechanism might be the culprit. couple that wth the fact that the loss of olfactory system is the first symptom most parkinsons victims realize.
    at any rate i began taking 1200 mg of ibuprofen daily 6 years ago. now for whatever reason i can once again play piano which i was totally unable to do 10 yrs ago
    my voice is near normal again and my gait is greatly improved ;
    as a matter of fact i had both hips replaced 8 weeks ago and was walking unaided 6 days after the surgeries. ( my therapist who came to the house twice) said i didn’t need his services and i was the fastest recovery he had seen in his 21 years of physical therapy. this was after concern from both the surgeon and my neurologist that i may never walk unaided due to the parkinsons. i cant say what but something worked . i’d like to see what a sinemet/ibuprofen combination drug would do. as well as a study of the effect of the new nasal sprays containing anti inflammatory on the delaying the onset or treating the symtoms brfore the inflammation reaches the brain