Research from UCLA has indicated that exposure to some pesticides may create higher risk for Parkinson's disease.
An earlier study published by the UCLA team in January, 2013 showed a link between benomyl (a fungicide banned by the EPA) and Parkinson's (PD). Benomyl lessened the production of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
Because ALDH turns aldehydes that are toxic to dopamine cells to a more benign state, a lack of ALDH can heighten the risk of Parkinson's disease.
This research found that a cascade of cellular events is triggered by pesticide exposure. One result was that ALDH did not adequately detoxify DOPAL which is a naturally occurring toxin in the brain. DOPAL then can accumulate causing damage to neurons. The risk for Parkinson's disease rises.
In a more recent study published by the same team in February, 2014 other pesticides were examined. It was seen that there are 11 pesticides that inhibit ALDH and thus raise the risk for PD. It was also seen that negative effects can occur at lower levels than previously suspected.
Study lead author Jeff Bronstein, a professor of neurology and director of movement disorders at UCLA, said that people with a certain common genetic variant are especially at risk from these pesticides.
People with a common genetic variant of the ALDH2 gene had a two to six times higher risk for Parkinson's after exposure to the pesticides.
Bronstein cautioned that just having the variant is not enough to increase the risk for PD however.
Researchers concluded that the pesticides identified should be avoided to safeguard against increased risk for Parkinson's.
They recommended the development of therapies to modulate the activity of the ALDH enzyme, as well as therapies to eliminate toxic aldehydes with the goal of reducing the occurrence of PD, and inhibiting its progression, especially for those who have suffered pesticide exposure.
Parkinson's disease is one of the most common neurological disorders. It is caused by the death and breakdown of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. There is as yet no known cure.
Symptoms will vary from one person to another.