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J Parkinsons Dis. 2018;8(s1):S9-S17. doi: 10.3233/JPD-181493.

The Search for Environmental Causes of Parkinson's Disease: Moving Forward.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


It is widely believed that environmental exposures contribute to the vast majority of late-onset sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD), alone or via interactions with genetic factors. The search for environmental causes of PD has however been hampered by lack of understanding the prodromal phase of PD development and the difficulties in exposure assessment during this prolonged period. On the other hand, the existence of this prodromal period, along with an increasingly better understanding of PD prodromal symptoms, provides an exciting opportunity to identify environmental factors that initiate PD pathogenesis and/or modify its progression. For prevention efforts, this prodromal stage is of a major interest. Targeting factors that enter the body via the nose or gut has become even more important since the discovery of α-synuclein aggregates in the enteric and olfactory nervous systems. In this paper, we speculate about novel research hypotheses and approaches that may help us better define the role of environment in PD etiology, especially during its extended and complex prodromal phase.


Parkinson’s disease; environmental risk factors; etiology; prodromal symptoms; progression

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