Sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by the loss of midbrain dopamine neurons and Lewy body inclusions. It is thought to result from a complex interaction between multiple predisposing genes and environmental influences, although these interactions are still poorly understood. Several causative genes have been identified in different families. Mutations in two genes [α-synuclein and nuclear receptor-related 1 (Nurr1)] cause the same pathology, and a third locus on chromosome 2 also causes this pathology. Other familial PD mutations have identified genes involved in the ubiquitin-proteasome system [parkin and ubiquitin C-terminal hydroxylase L1 (UCHL1)], although such cases do not produce Lewy bodies. These studies highlight critical cellular proteins and mechanisms for dopamine neuron survival as disrupted in Parkinson's disease. Understanding the genetic variations impacting on dopamine neurons may illuminate other molecular mechanisms involved. Additional candidate genes involved in dopamine cell survival, dopamine synthesis, metabolism and function, energy supply, oxidative stress, and cellular detoxification have been indicated by transgenic animal models and/or screened in human populations with differing results. Genetic variation in genes known to produce different patterns and types of neurodegeneration that may impact on the function of dopamine neurons are also reviewed. These studies suggest that environment and genetic background are likely to have a significant influence on susceptibility to Parkinson's disease. The identification of multiple genes predisposing to Parkinson's disease will assist in determining the cellular pathway/s leading to the neurodegeneration observed in this disease.
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism/dementia complex of Guam
- apolipoprotein E
- Degenerative disease: Parkinson's
- Disorders of the nervous system
- Gene function
- Genetic models
- Predisposing genes