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Environ Health Perspect. Jun 2003; 111(8): 1065–1073.
PMCID: PMC1241555
Research Article
Parkinson's disease and exposure to infectious agents and pesticides and the occurrence of brain injuries: role of neuroinflammation.
Bin Liu, Hui-Ming Gao, and Jau-Shyong Hong
Neuropharmacology Section, Laboratory of Pharmacology and Chemistry, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA. liu3@niehs.nih.gov
Abstract
Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is a devastating movement disorder characterized by selective degeneration of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway. Neurodegeneration usually starts in the fifth decade of life and progresses over 5-10 years before reaching the fully symptomatic disease state. Despite decades of intense research, the etiology of sporadic PD and the mechanism underlying the selective neuronal loss remain unknown. However, the late onset and slow-progressing nature of the disease has prompted the consideration of environmental exposure to agrochemicals, including pesticides, as a risk factor. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that early-life occurrence of inflammation in the brain, as a consequence of either brain injury or exposure to infectious agents, may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD. Most important, there may be a self-propelling cycle of inflammatory process involving brain immune cells (microglia and astrocytes) that drives the slow yet progressive neurodegenerative process. Deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms governing those intricate interactions would significantly advance our understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of PD and aid the development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of the disease.
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