Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders

Volume 70 of the series Journal of Neural Transmission. Supplementa pp 147-151

Nongenetic causes of Parkinson’s disease

  • A. R. ChadeAffiliated withClinical Research, Parkinson’s Institute
  • , M. KastenAffiliated withClinical Research, Parkinson’s Institute
  • , C. M. TannerAffiliated withClinical Research, Parkinson’s Institute

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Study of the nongenetic causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD) was encouraged by discovery of a cluster of parkinsonism produced by neurotoxic pyridine 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in the 1980s. Since that time, epidemiologic investigations have suggested risk factors, though their results do not establish causality. Pesticide exposure has been associated with increased risk in many studies. Other proposed risks include rural residence and certain occupations. Cigarette smoking, use of coffee/caffeine, and non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) all appear to lower risk of PD, while dietary lipid and milk consumption, high caloric intake, and head trauma may increase risk. The cause of PD is likely multifactorial. Underlying genetic susceptibility and combinations of risk and protective factors likely all contribute. The combined research effort by epidemiologists, geneticists, and basic scientists will be needed to clarify the cause(s) of PD.