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These new risk factors could explain the appearance of Parkinson’s disease

  • April 15, 2024
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Difficulties in movement, rigidity of the limbs, muscle tremors,… so many factors characterizing the Parkinson disease. In France, around 200,000 people suffer from this neurodegenerative disease. Although the origin of the disease remains unknown, “the risk of contracting it is higher in people with a family history of the disease,” explains the World Health Organization (WHO) before adding, exposure to air pollutionpesticides and solvents can increase this risk”.

Researchers from the University of Rochester, in the United States, were interested in a hypothesis put forward in the early 2000s. The development of Parkinson’s disease could find its origin in the sense of smell or in the patient’s body. This hypothesis article is published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s disease: certain chemicals present in everyday life increase the risk

In the preamble, the specialists explain that the origin of Parkinson’s diseaseIt could be in an area other than the brain. More precisely, according to this theory, the beginnings of which were laid in 2003 by a German pathologist, the source of the neurodegenerative disease could be found either in the smell center of the brain (the brain first), either in the intestinal tract of the body (which includes several organs such as the large intestine, stomach and pharynx (throat).

In cause, a misfolded protein called alpha-synuclein, and of which we already know that the accumulation in the brain is responsible for the Lewy body disease. The latter “causes progressive dysfunction and death of many types of nerve cells, including those in the dopamine-producing regions of the brain that control motor function”, write the researchers. The latter specify that this protein “is in the scientists’ crosshairs for 25 years as one of the drivers of Parkinson’s disease“.

Researchers wondered about the effects of three common toxic substances, present in cleaning products, degreasers, and also weedkillers. These products are known to have negative effects on the alpha-synuclein protein.

Parkinson’s disease may be linked to inhaling or consuming certain chemicals

As experts explain, “the nose and intestine are lined with soft, permeable tissue, and both have well-established connections to the brain.” Researchers wondered about the effects of three common toxic substances, present in cleaning products, degreasers, and also weedkillers. These products are known to have negative effects on the alpha-synuclein protein.

Here is how Parkinson’s disease could develop in certain cases according to researchers:

In the model in which the center of smell in the brain may be the cause of neurodegenerative disease, “the chemicals are inhaled and can enter the brain through the nerve responsible for smell.” Through this entry point, the researchers believe that this would lead to the spread of the protein, alpha-synuclein in the brain, leading to the death of many cells, characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

In the case of ingestion of toxic substance, researchers hypothesize that the chemicals pass through the wall of the gastrointestinal tract, causing alpha-synuclein pathology to form in the gut’s nervous system before spreading to the brain and marrow. spinal cord. This would lead to the development of Lewy body disease, which “is characterized by a early constipation and sleeping troublesfollowed by a more symmetrical slowing of movements and earlier dementia, as the disease spreads in both cerebral hemispheres”.

Household products, polluted air,… their inhalation increases the risk of Parkinson’s

Also, according to experts from the University of Rochester Medical Center, in the United States, “inhalation of certain pesticides, common dry cleaning chemicals, and air pollution predispose to a brain-first pattern of disease.” Likewise, the consumption of toxic substances present in spoiled water, for example, could increase the risk.

While this is just theory, the researchers say it could advance research as the number of cases of Parkinson’s disease linked to environmental factors is increasing around the world. Likewise, this could facilitate prevention and awareness among the general public of the danger of many chemicals present in the environment.

On #WorldParkinsonsDay the @journal_pd releases an important hypothesis paper which explains that environmental toxins could in theory result in pathology that passes along the brain-first or body-first pathways, to trigger mechanisms for Parkinson’s disease. @basbloem @kalialabs pic.twitter.com/McbXimb5mA

— Journal of Parkinson’s Disease (@journal_PD) April 11, 2024

Sources :

  • The Body, the Brain, the Environment, and Parkinson’s Disease – Journal of Parkinson’s Disease
  • On World Parkinson’s Day, a new theory emerges on the disease’s origins and spread – University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Parkinson’s disease – WHO
author avatar
Louis Tardy