Pesticide-Parkinson’s Link Expanded: Even Low Level Exposure Risky

The Pesticide-Parkinson’s Disease link has already been demonstrated by previous scientific studies. Now this latest study has uncovered an even more disturbing finding: even low levels of exposure to two types of the pesticides commonly used on food crops (paraquat and maneb) can trigger symptoms of Parkinson’s in those people predisposed for the disease.


 

Cause of pesticide exposure, Parkinson’s link

Low-level exposure to the pesticides disrupts cells in a way that mimics the effects of mutations known to cause Parkinson’s disease

 

Results from a new study indicate that low-level exposure to the pesticides disrupts cells in a way that mimics the effects of mutations known to cause Parkinson’s disease.

Adding the effects of the chemicals to a predisposition for Parkinson’s disease drastically increases the risk of disease onset…

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“People exposed to these chemicals are at about a 250-percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than the rest of the population.”

-Dr. Scott Ryan, Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph

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Stem cell study overview

This study used stem cells from people with Parkinson’s disease that had a mutation in a gene called synuclein that is highly associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease, as well as normal embryonic stem cells in which, the risk associated mutation was introduced by gene editing.

From the two types of stem cells, the researchers made dopamine-producing neurons — the specific neurons affected in Parkinson’s disease — and exposed them to the two agrochemicals.

In exposing cells to agrochemicals, energy-producing mitochondria were prevented from moving to where they were needed inside the cell, depleting the neurons of energy.

Neurons from the Parkinson’s patients and those in which the genetic risk factor was introduced were impaired at doses below the EPA reported lowest observed effect level. Higher doses are needed to impair function in normal neurons.

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“People with a predisposition for Parkinson’s disease are more affected by these low level exposures to agrochemicals and therefore more likely to develop the disease.  This is one of the reasons why some people living near agricultural areas are at a higher risk…safety standards need to be updated in order to protect those who are more susceptible and may not even know it.”

–Dr. Scott Ryan, Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph

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Journal Reference:  Morgan G. Stykel, Kayla Humphries, Mathew P. Kirby, Chris Czaniecki, Tinya Wang, Tammy Ryan, Vladimir Bamm, Scott D. Ryan. Nitration of microtubules blocks axonal mitochondrial transport in a human pluripotent stem cell model of Parkinson’s disease. The FASEB Journal, 2018; fj.201700759RR DOI: 10.1096/fj.201700759RR