Alpha-synuclein Rep1, head Injury and PD

Research You Can Use: Video presentation of a study by researchers at The Parkinsons's Institute on the role of head injury, genes and Parkinson's disease.

We invite you to view a video of the PI’s Sam Goldman, MD MPH, Associate Professor, Clinical Research Department, describing a paper published in the Annals of Neurology entitled “Alpha-synuclein Rep1, head injury and Parkinson’s disease. 

In Brief: Most Parkinson’s disease has long been thought to be caused by a combination of genes and environment, but very few studies have looked at this. We conducted two separate national studies to test whether Parkinson’s disease is more common in people with BOTH a genetic and an environmental risk factor, compared with those with only one of these risk factors.

Alpha-synuclein is a protein that accumulates in neurons in Parkinson’s disease. Levels of this protein are increased in people with a common genetic variant, and may also be increased in people who had a prior mild-moderate head injury. In both of our studies, we found that Parkinson’s disease was slightly more common in people with EITHER the genetic variant OR a prior head injury. However, Parkinson’s disease was up to 10-FOLD more common in people with BOTH the genetic variant and a prior head injury. These studies provide strong support for the idea that most Parkinson’s disease is caused by a combination of genes and environment.

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