Environmental Toxins Linked To Onset Of Different Parkinson’s Disease Types

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Approximately one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, characterized by uncontrollable movements and difficulty walking and talking. Each year, around 90,000 Americans are diagnosed, with over 1.2 million expected to have the disease by 2030. Researchers from the University of Rochester suggest that environmental toxins may trigger Parkinson’s in various ways, potentially leading to different subtypes of the disease.

Toxins linked to brain-first Parkinson’s

The hypothesis, presented in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, expands on the “brain-first vs body-first” model of Parkinson’s disease, proposing two potential starting points: the brain, specifically the olfactory bulb related to smell, or the body, particularly the nervous system of the gut.

According to Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurology professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the pathology of Parkinson’s disease originates in body structures closely linked to the external environment. He suggests that Parkinson’s is a systemic condition, with initial origins in the nose and gut, influenced by environmental factors. This implies that Parkinson’s, considered the fastest-growing brain disease globally, may be preventable, as it may be fueled by toxicants.

The disease process of Parkinson’s, characterized by the accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein clumps, follows distinct patterns. Brain-first cases initially exhibit movement issues, while body-first cases show early symptoms like sleep disorders.

Pesticides and solvents trigger alpha-synuclein misfolding in Parkinson’s

Researchers at the University of Rochester suggest that inhaled toxicants, such as pesticides like paraquat and solvents like TCE and PCE, could trigger alpha-synuclein misfolding and aggregation in brain-first Parkinson’s cases. Air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, is also implicated in Parkinson’s risk.

Researchers suggest that in body-first disease, ingested toxicants may induce alpha-synuclein aggregation in the gut. Contamination of well water and food by pesticides is highlighted, with well water consumption associated with Parkinson’s disease. Certain pesticides are linked to body-first symptoms such as REM sleep behavior disorder. Industrial pollutants like TCE can also taint groundwater, as evidenced by a study showing a 70 percent higher Parkinson’s risk among Marines at Camp Lejeune, where TCE-contaminated water was consumed for over three decades.

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