Pesticides and Parkinson’s disease: A potential hazard in agricultural communities

Smathorn Thakolwiboon MD, Parunyou Julayanont MD, Doungporn Ruthirago MD


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a prevalent neurodegenerative disorder. Its pathogenesis is related to both genetic and environmental factors. Current evidence suggests that pesticide exposure is one of the risk factors of PD. In this review, we summarize four molecular mechanisms of pesticide-induced PD with supportive evidences from both laboratory and epidemiological studies. Rotenone is the first pesticide reported to be associated with PD by inhibiting complex I of mitochondrial electron transport chain. Paraquat, a commonly-used herbicide in some countries, is an oxidative stressor causing dopaminergic neuronal loss which contributes to the pathogenesis of PD. The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) inhibitors cause unwanted proteins (especially alpha-synuclein) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL) accumulation leading to dopaminergic neuronal apoptosis. In addition, exposure to different pesticides affecting different mechanisms may have synergistic effects in increasing risk of PD. Protective glove use, the amount of fat intake, and neuroprotective agents are reported to have disease modification effects for pesticide-associated PD.

Keywords: pesticides, Parkinson, Parkinsonism, agriculture

Article citation: Thakolwiboon S, Julayanont P, Ruthirago D. Pesticides and Parkinson’s disease: a potential hazard in agricultural communities. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles 2017;5(20):60-67.
From: Department of Neurology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock TX
Submitted: 3/7/2017
Accepted: 6/7/2017
Reviewer: Todd Anderson PhD, Henrik Wilms MD, PhD
Conflicts of interest: none