Parkinson’s disease linked to gene variant and pesticide: Study

Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Researchers from France reported in their new study that bad genes and exposure to certain banned pesticides could be blamed for development of Parkinson’s disease in men. In their study, published in the Archives of Neurology journal they show that men exposed to pesticides such as DDT and who had inherited genes for Parkinson’s disease were three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those with the normal version of the gene.

Fabien Dutheil, Ph.D., of Université Paris Descartes, Assistance-Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, and colleagues studied 207 men with Parkinson's disease and 482 without the disease to look at links between DDT and similar chemical exposure and Parkinson's disease. Most of the Parkinson’s patients were farmers and had high exposure to DDT.

The scientists say that when persons with these gene variations are exposed to these toxic chemicals they fail to flush it out. The gene variant is known as the ABCB1, which codes for a pump that helps the brain flush out dangerous chemicals. There are two known variations of this gene found more in Parkinson’s patients. Among 101 men with Parkinson's disease and 234 matched controls, the relationship between organochlorine insecticide like DDT exposure and Parkinson's disease was approximately 3.5 times stronger in men who carried two variant alleles (gene copies) compared with those who were not carriers.

2001 United Nations convention banned some dozen odd chemicals including DDT that is supposed to be a suppressant of the immune system. It is already threatening the avian population by thinning egg shells and now it is linked to the dreaded brain and nerve disease Parkinson’s. People with Parkinson’s disease often suffer from muscle rigidity, tremors, loss of balance and ultimately complete immobility. It is incurable and severely debilitating.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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