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Early Environmental Origins of Neurodegenerative Disease in Later Life *

Parkinson disease (PD) and Alzheimer disease (AD), the two most common neurodegenerative disorders in American adults, are of purely genetic origin in a minority of cases and appear in most instances to arise through interactions among genetic and environmental factors. In this article we hypothesize that environmental exposures in early life may be of particular etiologic importance and review evidence for the early environmental origins of neurodegeneration. For PD the first recognized environmental cause, MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine), was identified in epidemiologic studies of drug abusers. Chemicals experimentally linked to PD include the insecticide rotenone and the herbicides paraquat and maneb; interaction has been observed between paraquat and maneb. In epidemiologic studies, manganese has been linked to parkinsonism. In dementia, lead is associated with increased risk in chronically exposed workers. Exposures of children in early life to lead, polychlorinated biphenyls, and methylmercury have been followed by persistent decrements in intelligence that may presage dementia. To discover new environmental causes of AD and PD, and to characterize relevant gene–environment interactions, we recommend that a large, prospective genetic and epidemiologic study be undertaken that will follow thousands of children from conception (or before) to old age. Additional approaches to etiologic discovery include establishing incidence registries for AD and PD, conducting targeted investigations in high-risk populations, and improving testing of the potential neurologic toxicity of chemicals.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 08-18-2009
Authors: Philip J. Landrigan,1 Babasaheb Sonawane,2 Robert N. Butler,3 Leonardo Trasande,1 Richard Callan,1 and Daniel Droller1
Source: Environ Health Perspect. 2005 September; 113(9),: 1230–1233.