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Genetics Tied to Early Parkinson's Disease

Genetics Tied to Early Parkinson's Disease

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By    |   Monday, 28 November 2016 01:48 PM

A genetic defect appears to accelerate the onset of Parkinson’s disease in people aged 50 and younger, new research finds.

The genetic mutation affects the gene that produces dopamine in the brain, and is dramatic especially for people under the age of 50 that are white, researchers say.

As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. The average age of onset is 60 years old, but an estimated four percent of patients are diagnosed at age 50 or younger.

According to the Iowa State University study, people who inherit one bad version of the gene - guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase-1 or GCH1 – develop Parkinson’s disease five years earlier and are at a 23 percent increased risk for the disease.

However, young-to-middle-age adults with the mutation had a 45 percent increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Researchers say the presence of the defective gene in older adults had minimal effect.

The study is the first to look at these different biological markers, as well has how the gene's impact on dopamine production specifically affects people who are white.

The Iowa State study includes 289 people recently diagnosed with Parkinson's, but not on medication, and 233 healthy people.

They found those with the defective gene, regardless of age, were more anxious and struggled more with daily activities. However, the defective gene was not as strong of a predictor of developing Parkinson's in people over 50.

It is also important to pay attention to blood cholesterol levels. The study shows that carriers of the defective GCH1 gene had higher cholesterol than non-carriers, which was true regardless of age, the study finds.

Cholesterol is directly related to the ability to produce dopamine. High LDL, or what's considered "bad" cholesterol, is an established risk factor of Parkinson's.

The study is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.


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A new study shows that a genetic defect contributes to Parkinson's disease before the age of 50.
Parkinsons, disease, genetics
Monday, 28 November 2016 01:48 PM
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