We aim to understand the molecular basis for locomotor impairment in aging and Parkinson's disease. Our immediate and long-term goals are to discover molecular, pharmacological, and non-invasive (exercise, calorie restriction) approaches that can target proteins associated with motor impairment, which can reduce or eliminate locomotor impairment.
August 11, 2022
Drs. Salvatore and Nejtek presentation at the University of Hard Knocks hits the mark
Over 40 patients and their caregivers attend the presentation of how the Punching Out Parkinson's program at Paulie Ayala's gym is helping both motor and cognitive performances. See "Our presentations and public outreach" page for photos of the event.
July 21, 2022
Presentation and luncheon at the University of Hard Knocks for Punching out Parkinson's
Mark your calendar for August 11th at noon, as Dr. Salvatore and Nejtek will present the results of their evidence that the non-contact boxing program at Pauli and Leti Ayalas gym here in Fort Worth is helping alleviate Parkinson's symptoms. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by Aug 5th. See flyer on the "Our presentations and public outreach page" for more information
June 7, 2022
Paper accepted in Journal of Parkinson's Disease.
The Salvatore, Nejtek, and Cunningham Labs combine their work in a rat genetic Parkinson's model (Pink1 knockout) and early-stage Parkinson's disease patients to determine exercise impact between the two species. There are many ways for the patient to engage in aerobic exercise (cycling, brisk walks, dancing, swimming, etc) but the common denominator in all is their impact on heart rate. Here we report that early-stage Parkinson's patients enrolled for at least 3 months in the non-contact boxing program, Punching Out Parkinson's, at the School of Hard Knocks run by the husband/wife team of Leti and Paula Ayala (former world-chamption bantam weight boxer), had significantly improved motor and cognitive function with an increase in heart rate in the moderate intensity range. We then determined at what treadmill speed would the knockout rat need to run to get a similar increase in heart rate. We also found evidence of improved motor function in the exercise-experienced rats. This work moves to establish cross-species translation avenues to evaluate the neurobiological impact of aerobic exercise.
The paper will be published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease later this month.
UPDATE: Here is the link to the study: paper https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-parkinsons-disease/jpd223157
May 25, 2022
Congratulations to Isabel Soto
3rd year doctoral student and candidate, Isabel Soto, has been selected as a Neuroscience Scholars Program Fellow, on behalf of the Society for Neuroscience Professional Development Committee. This award comes with a number of excellent opportunities for her further training and development as a neuroscientist.
We are incredibly proud of you, Isabel!
May 2, 2022
Accepted manuscript in press in Geroscience
We recently received good news that our manuscript will be published in a top tier journal in aging research. This study combines the efforts of three labs to examine the question of what compartment of the nigrostriatal pathway has deficient dopamine signaling that produces parkinsonian signs. Parkinsonian signs are highly prevalent in those over age 60 and are very similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Our results point to deficient dopamine function in a long-neglected component of the nigrostriatal neuron, the somatodendritic region in the substantia nigra, as a mechanism of parkinsonian signs. The further good news is that there is still plasticity at older age wherein parkinsonian signs can be alleviated, by augmenting dopamine signaling in the substantia nigra.
Salvatore, M.F., Kasanga, E.A., Kelly,P., Venable, K.E. [...], Bishop, C., Ingram, D.K. Modulation of nigral dopamine signaling mitigates parkinsonian signs of aging: evidence from intervention with calorie restriction or inhibition of dopamine uptake.
April 8, 2022
Congrats to Isabel Soto
At the Southern Gerontological Society 43rd Annual meeting in Panama City, FL, our own Isabel Soto is winner of 1st place for Best Student Poster in presentation of her work "Exercise is a protective factor for motor and cognitive function in early-stage Parkinson's Disease"
Awesome job, Isabel.
March 15, 2022
Congrats to Isabel Soto!
Hearty congratulations to Isabel Soto, who has successfully defended her dissertation proposal entitled "The Impact of Exercise on Cognition, Motor Functioning, Biomarkers, and Neural Mechanisms of Prodromal and Early-Stage Parkinson’s Disease: A Translational Study Using the Pink1 Knock-Out Rat" passing with distinction.
December 15, 2021
Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
With Dr. Kasanga as first author, and Dr. Tom Cunningham as a key collaborator, we have shown the exercise intensity and frequency needed to mitigate the onset of aging-related Parkinsonian signs in older rats. We determined that an exercise intensity that produces a 25% increase in heart rate above baseline will mitigate the onset of parkinsonian signs within 8 weeks after initiation in previously sedentary older rats. This study establishes a baseline upon which to evaluate the efficacy of exercise needed for a highly significant health benefit.
Cardiovascular Metrics Associated With Prevention of Aging-Related Parkinsonian Signs Following Exercise Intervention in Sedentary Older Rats
November 19, 2021
Impact of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury as a Parkinson's disease risk factor
Dr. Vicki Nejtek publishes a high impact study showing very specific cognitive tests may be able to detect an issue with executive function that is also evident in early-stage Parkinson's disease patients. This study was covered by 12 media outlets.
Premature cognitive decline in specific domains found in young veterans with mTBI coincide with elder normative scores and advanced-age subjects with early-stage Parkinson’s disease
July 19, 2021
A hearty welcome to the lab
We are pleased to announce three outstanding new additions to the lab.
Kirby Doshier joins us from UNT-Denton.
Robert McManus has joined our lab as full-time research assistant.
Walter Navarrete joins our lab in early August as full time research assistant.
March 30, 2021
Congratulations to Ella A. Kasanga!
Ella defended her dissertation entitled "Strategies and mechanism to reduce locomotor impairment in aging and Parkinson's disease" with distinction in unanimous vote by her committee. She will officially be Dr. Kasanga at the UNTHSC commencement ceremonies May 14, 2021.
January 16, 2021.
Published in Journal of Parkinson's Disease
My collaborator, Dr. Vicki Nejtek and I, along with our co-authors and colleagues, publish a review regarding the potential utility of the IowaGambling Task as a companion measure for detecting prodromal Parkinson's or gauging the risk for therapuetic non-compliance.
December 1, 2020
Good news on the manuscript front
We have recently learned that a review article with our collaborator, Dr. Vicki Nejtek, entitled "Is there a neurobiological rationale for the utility of the Iowa Gambling Task in Parkinson's disease" has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Parkinson's Disease.
May 11, 2020
Ella Kasanga awarded Visiting Scholar Fellowship from the Parkinson's Foundation.
Ella Kasanga will be joining the laboratory of collaborator Professor Jason Richardson at Florida International University to research the impact of exercise on astrocyte-related function in Parkinson's disease models. Only two awards were given this year. Congratulations to Ella!
More information on this award can be located here. https://www.parkinson.org/research/information-for-researchers/early-career-fellowships/visiting-scholar?_ga=2.205647381.740322120.1599235097-1181191104.1567118967.
September 20, 2019
The Salvatore Lab publishes "GFR-α1 expression in substantia nigra increases bilaterally following unilateral striatal GDNF in aged rats and attenuates nigral tyrosine hydroxylase loss following 6-OHDA nigrostriatal lesion" in ACS Chem Neurosci
The body of work provides a possible mechanism why the growth factor GDNF had sustained bilateral motor impact in phase 1 trials, and why the receptor for GDNF could be a viable target for Parkinson's disease treatment.
September 1, 2019
The Salvatore Lab has received an award from the Department of Defense Congressionally-directed Medical Research Program for the Parkinson's Research Program.
We will evaluate the neurobiological mechanisms of exercise in two rodent models of Parkinson's disease.
The Salvatore Lab is in its 16th year of pro-active engagement of discovery in neurodegenerative disease and aging-related pathologies that impact the ability to move as desired. Parkinson's disease and aging-related parkinsonism severely compromise this ability. We seek to understand the molecular basis for this impairment in established rodent models and collaborate with those investigating these questions in human studies.
The lab has trained over 2 dozen undergraduate, graduate, and medical students in this process of discovery.