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Gene Variants Linked with Faster Parkinson’s Disease Progression

Beate Ritz, M.D., Ph.D., Jeff Bronstein, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
NIEHS Grants R01ES010544, U54ES012078, P01ES016732


NIEHS grantees report that Parkinson's disease patients with two specific variants of the alpha-synuclein (SNCA) gene progressed toward motor decline significantly faster than patients without these variants. This work could lead to new therapies and help identify those who would benefit most from early intervention.


The researchers followed 233 well-characterized Parkinson’s disease patients in central California for an average of 5.1 years, and found that carriers of the Rep1 263bp variant of the SNCA gene had a four-fold higher risk of faster motor decline. Patients with both the Rep1 263bp promoter and rs356165 variants had an even stronger trend in progression toward motor decline.


Although the findings need replication in other well-characterized Parkinson’s disease populations, the researchers say that their work shows that these gene variants could be used to identify patients who will likely experience faster disease progression. The work also points to the alpha-synuclein pathway as a promising potential therapeutic target.


Citation: Ritz B, Rhodes SL, Bordelon Y, Bronstein J. 2012. α-Synuclein Genetic Variants Predict Faster Motor Symptom Progression in Idiopathic Parkinson Disease. PLoS One 7(5):e36199.

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