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Daily News Blog

20
Dec

New Developments in the Link Between Parkinson’s and Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2018) Using low doses of the herbicide paraquat and common proteins found in food called lectins, researchers were able to recreate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. Results of this study, published in the journal Parkinson’s disease, provide scientists with fresh insights into the development of the disease, and a new model to test potential remedies. Paraquat, a neurotoxic herbicide with a well-established body of literature linking it to Parkinson’s disease, is currently undergoing a registration review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and groups like the Michael J Fox Foundation are calling for its ban.

Researchers based their study on the Braak Staging hypothesis of Parkinson’s, which posits that the disease is brought on by foreign agents entering the body through the gut or nose and making their way to the brain. Rats were exposed to low doses of paraquat combined with lectin every day for a week. After two weeks, the animals’ motor function was tested and compared to an unexposed control group.

Rats exposed to lectin and paraquat exhibited Parkinson-like symptoms. Primary author R. Alberto Travagli, PhD, notes, “After observing that these animals did indeed show symptoms of Parkinsonism, we wanted to double check and make sure we weren’t looking at animals that had these symptoms for another reason.” To check, Dr. Travalgi indicates, “We administered levodopa, which is a common medication for Parkinson’s disease. We saw a return to almost normal types of motor responses, which was a clear indication that we were looking at some sort of Parkinsonism.”

Lectin, which is often found in healthy foods like raw vegetables, eggs, and dairy, combined with paraquat in the gut and triggered the formation of a misfolded protein called alpha-synuclein, a foreign agent that likely plays a role in the development of Parkinson’s. Alpha-synuclein travels from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve. Thus, to confirm the etiology of the symptoms exposed rats were experiencing, researchers removed the vagus nerve of a population of test rats and administered the same combination of lectin and paraquat. No rats within this group developed Parkinson-like symptoms.

“We were able to demonstrate that if you have oral paraquat exposure, even at very low levels, and you also consume lectins — perhaps in the form of uncooked vegetables, dairy or eggs — then it could potentially trigger the formation of this protein alpha-synuclein in the gut,” said study coauthor Thyagarajan Subramanian. “Once it’s formed, it can travel up the vagus nerve and to the part of the brain that triggers the onset of Parkinson’s disease.”

Scientists also administered both paraquat and lectin alone to rat populations, but did not see the same pathology in either groups tested.

Researchers indicate that these results provide new avenues for intervention to prevent Parkinson’s in humans. For example, there could be dietary changes that could delay onset, or drugs (including antibiotics), such as squalamine, that act to remove alpha-synuclein from the gut.

Any herbicide implicated in the development of a disease, which is expected to double in diagnosis over the next 20 years, raises serious questions about compliance with safety standards. A large body of scientific studies strongly implicates this chemical in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Earlier this year, research published in the journal Cell Reports implicated paraquat for its ability to create senescent cells that cause inflammation in the brain.

Beyond Pesticides strongly supports the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s stance that paraquat should be banned for use in the United States. The chemical has already been banned in the European Union since 2007, yet the United States still imports the chemical from throughout the world.

Join us in urging Congress and EPA to ban the use of paraquat by sending a letter today. And for more information on the connection between pesticides and Parkinson’s see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Diseases Database.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Penn State Press Release,  Parkinson’s Disease (peer-reviewed journal)

 

 

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  • Archives

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    • ALS (2)
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