Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 70, Issue 22, pp 4259–4273 | Cite as

The role of inflammation in sporadic and familial Parkinson’s disease

  • Michela DeleidiEmail author
  • Thomas Gasser


The etiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is complex and most likely involves numerous environmental and heritable risk factors. Interestingly, many genetic variants, which have been linked to familial forms of PD or identified as strong risk factors, also play a critical role in modulating inflammatory responses. There has been considerable debate in the field as to whether inflammation is a driving force in neurodegeneration or simply represents a response to neuronal death. One emerging hypothesis is that inflammation plays a critical role in the early phases of neurodegeneration. In this review, we will discuss emerging aspects of both innate and adaptive immunity in the context of the pathogenesis of PD. We will highlight recent data from genetic and functional studies that strongly support the theory that genetic susceptibility plays an important role in modulating immune pathways and inflammatory reactions, which may precede and initiate neuronal dysfunction and subsequent neurodegeneration. A detailed understanding of such cellular and molecular inflammatory pathways is crucial to uncover pathogenic mechanisms linking sporadic and hereditary PD and devise tailored neuroprotective interventions.


Parkinson’s disease Immune system Neurogenetics Neuroinflammation Glial cells 



Alzheimer’s disease


Antigen-presenting cell




Central nervous system




Crohn’s disease




Early onset Parkinson’s disease


F-box protein 7




Gaucher’s disease




Genome wide association study


Human leukocyte antigen


Inflammatory bowel disease




Lewy bodies


Lewy neurites




Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2




Multiple sclerosis


Nitric oxide


Nuclear receptor


Parkinson’s disease


Phospholipase A2 group VI


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor


Reactive oxygen species


Substantia nigra


Tyrosine hydroxylase


Toll-like receptor


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Vasoactive intestinal peptide



This work was supported by grants from the German Research Council and Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, and by a Research Grant from the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)TübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain ResearchUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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