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C R Biol. 2007 Apr;330(4):318-28. Epub 2007 Apr 9.

Interaction between genes and environment in neurodegenerative diseases.

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Inserm, U708 Neuroépidémiologie & université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (Paris-6), groupe hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, 75651 Paris cedex 13, France.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) are highly prevalent disorders that account for a large part of the global burden of neurodegenerative diseases. Most AD and PD cases occur sporadically and it is generally agreed that they could arise through interactions among genetic and environmental factors. Candidate genes involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics, neurodegeneration and functioning of dopaminergic neurons were found to be associated with PD. Some of these genes interact with environmental factors that could modify PD risk. Thus, we found that the inverse association between smoking and the risk of PD depended on a polymorphism of the iNOS (inducible NO synthase) gene. We also found that the cytochrome P450 2D6 gene could have a modifying effect on the risk of PD among persons exposed to pesticides. Both interactions have biological plausibility supported by laboratory studies and could contribute to better understand the aetiology of PD. A single susceptibility gene has been identified in sporadic AD. The epsilon4 allele of epsilon polymorphism of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) is strongly associated with AD, the risk of AD being multiplied by 5 in persons carrying two epsilon4 alleles. The mechanism of the association between APOE and AD is poorly understood. A few interactions between the epsilon polymorphism and possible risk factors for AD have been described. However, these interactions had no biological plausibility and were likely due to chance.

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