The association between pesticides and Parkinson's disease risk
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Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurological movement disorder characterized by depletion of dopaminergic cell bodies in the substantia nigra pars compacta with subsequent loss of dopamine in the nigrostriatal pathway. PD is definitively diagnosed by the presence of intracytoplasmic inclusions in dopaminergic neurons. These inclusions are composed of a-synuclein aggregates, known as “Lewy bodies.” Lewy Bodies are known to be toxic to neurons leading to cell death. Individuals with PD most commonly manifest with bradykinesia (slowness in movement), tremors, and rigidity, but may also suffer orthostatic hypotension, dysphagia, anosmia, constipation, and sleep dysregulation. Mechanisms of PD pathogenesis may include defective protein handling, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Exposure to pesticides has long been implicated in the etiology of Parkinson’s Disease. An increasing number of epidemiological studies have linked the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease to environmental risk factors such as exposure to occupational pesticides and rural living where pesticides are known to leak into the soil and water systems far from their original area of use. The epidemiologic literature is lacking studies with large enough cohorts and accurate means to measure the exact pesticide exposure and duration of exposure. Given the extensive worldwide use of pesticides it is important to further study the associations between Parkinson’s disease and occupation exposures in larger populations.