Parkinson's Disease Linked to Environmental Toxin

Environmental toxins called proteasome inhibitors cause a Parkinson's disease-like movement disorder in rats. The findings suggest that these toxins may contribute to the development of Parkinson's in humans. Natural proteasome inhibitors are produced by bacteria and fungi. Human-made proteasome inhibitors also find their way into the environment. After rats were exposed to both man-made and naturally occurring proteasome inhibitors, they began to display Parkinson's-like symptoms such as slowness of movement, tremors, and rigidity. The rats' brains also showed a reduction in levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which undergoes a similar decline in Parkinson's patients, along with a pattern of nerve cell loss that closely resembled Parkinson's. Other toxins like petroleum-based hydrocarbon solvents such as paints and glues, pesticides, and even too much iron have also been linked to Parkinson's disease.

Annals of Neurology June 21, 2004

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