One of the effects of sauna use, or actually almost any heating of tissues, is the release of heat shock protein or “HSP” for short. Heat shock protein is a chaperonin and prevents the unfolding of proteins and helps protect the tissues from damage induced by well, heat, and also other stresses.
This study found that not only does HSP induced by “whole body hyperthermia” (sauna use) but also, in fact, protects against damage in the striatum of rats from a compound known as “3-nitropropionic acid” which is toxic to the mitochondria. The striatum is a subcortical region of the forebrain. Notably, Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the striatum.
See some of the abstract below:
METHODS: Rats were subjected to WBH (42 degrees C) or normothermia control conditions for 30 min and then treated with 3-NP. Striatum samples were processed and the levels of protein carbonyl groups, biogenic amines, Hsp72 and salicylate hydroxylation (to probe the hydroxyl radical (OH(*)) intervention) were determined.
RESULTS: WBH significantly reduced oxidative stress in the striatum of animals treated with 3-NP, as judged by reductions in protein carbonyl and salicylate hydroxylation derivative levels, whereas striatal Hsp72 expression was significantly increased. The groups treated with 3-NP presented an increased in the dopamine (DA) derivatives 2,3-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and norepinephrine (NE) concentration, whereas the striatal relation DOPAC/DA concentration indicate a reduced dopamine turnover. (via.)