Pesticides Linked to Increased Parkinson’s Disease Risk

Published Online: Monday, March 17, 2014
Exposure to common pesticides may increase the risk for PD, the results of a recent study suggest.

The study, published online on February 4, 2014, in Neurology, analyzed whether environmental and genetic alterations to aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes were associated with an increased risk for developing PD. The researchers of the study identified pesticides that can inhibit ALDH activity, leading to a lack of dopamine and causing many of the symptoms of PD.

Using the Parkinson’s Environment & Genes Study, the relationship between exposure to these pesticides and diagnosis of PD was analyzed. The study also investigated whether variants of the ALDH2 gene were associated with an increased risk for developing the disease.

The researchers identified 11 pesticides that inhibit ALDH activity. The results indicated that exposure to these pesticides was associated with a 2- to 6-fold increase in the risk for developing PD. Patients with a genetic variation of the ALDH2 gene who were exposed to the pesticides had an even greater risk for the disease.

“ALDH inhibition appears to be an important mechanism through which environmental toxicants contribute to PD pathogenesis, especially in genetically vulnerable individuals, suggesting several potential interventions to reduce PD occurrence or slow or reverse its progression,” the authors conclude.

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