Scientists have identified a new genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease.
Researchers involved in the study were from the Institute of Human Genetics of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and Technische Universitat Munchen, the Neurological Clinic of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munich (LMU) and the Mitochondrial Research Group of Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
"Our study reveals the interaction of genetic and environmental factors such as dietary habits in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Matthias Elstner of the Neurological Clinic of LMU and Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, lead author of the study.
In addition, this genome-wide expression and association study confirms that vitamin B6 status and metabolism significantly influence both disease risk and therapy response.
Scientists of the two Munich universities and Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen investigated neurons in the brain to determine which genes modify their activity in Parkinson's disease.
Among other findings, the research group detected increased activity of the pyridoxal kinase gene. In a subsequent international cooperation project, the researchers compared this gene in over 1,200 Parkinson patients with the genetic data of more than 2,800 healthy test subjects.
In doing so, they discovered a gene variant which increases the risk for Parkinson's disease and which may lead to a modified quantity or activity of the enzyme pyridoxal kinase (PDXK) in the brain.
The study appears in Annals of Neurology.