Author(s): Prasad KN, Cole WC, Kumar B
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Abstract Parkinson's disease (PD) is one of the major progressive neurological disorders for which no preventative or long-term effective treatment strategies are available. Epidemiologic studies have failed to identify specific environmental, dietary or lifestyle risk factors for PD except for toxic exposure to manganese, meperidine (Demerol, the "designer drug" version of which often contains a toxic byproduct of the synthesis, 1-methyl-4-phenyl 1,2,3,6 tetrahydropyridine [MPTP]), and some herbicides and pesticides. The search for genetic risk factors such as mutation, overexpression or underexpression of nuclear genes in DA neurons in idiopathic PD has not been successful as yet. Polymorphism in certain genes appears to be a risk factor, but there is no direct evidence for the causal relationship between polymorphism and increased risk of PD. In familial PD, mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene is associated with the disease, but a direct role of this gene in degeneration of DA neurons remains to be established. Although mutations in the Parkin gene has been associated with autosomal recessive juvenile Parkinson's disease, the role of this gene mutation in causing degeneration of DA neurons has not been defined. We have reported that in hereditary PD, a mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene may increase the sensitivity of DA neurons to neurotoxins. We hypothesize that, in idiopathic PD, epigenetic (mitochondria, membranes, protein modifications) rather than genetic events are primary targets which, when impaired, initiate degeneration in DA neurons, eventually leading to cell death. Although the nature of neurotoxins that cause degeneration in DA neurons in PD is not well understood, oxidative stress is one of the intermediary risk factors that could initiate and/or promote degeneration of DA neurons. Therefore, supplementation with antioxidants may prevent or reduce the rate of progression of this disease. Supplementation with multiple antioxidants at appropriate doses is essential because various types of free radicals are produced, antioxidants vary in their ability to quench different free radicals and cellular environments vary with respect to their lipid and aqueous phases. L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-dopa) is one of the agents used in the treatment of PD. Since L-dopa is known to produce free radicals during its normal metabolism, the combination of L-dopa with high levels of multiple antioxidants may improve the efficacy of L-dopa therapy.
This article was published in J Am Coll Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research