The second most common neurodegenerative disease (after Alzheimer's disease), Parkinson's occurs when certain groups of nerve cells are damaged and destroyed. For example, neurons in the substantia nigra, an area of the brain that is important for normal voluntary movements, are invariably damaged. These abnormalities result in a variety of signs, including tremor, muscle stiffness, and slowness of movement. People with Parkinson's may also experience depression, anxiety, dementia, constipation, urinary difficulties, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms tend to worsen over time.
Researchers at Emory University and the University of Washington have developed a new nonhuman primate model of this disorder. They have shown for the first time that chronic exposure to the "organic" pesticide rotenone can cause Parkinson's-like pathology in monkeys. This finding builds upon their previous study in which they demonstrated that rotenone, a commonly used agricultural pesticide made from the extracts of tropical plants, can reproduce parkinsonian features in rats.
"Monkeys have a brain structure that is much more similar to humans than rats," notes J. Timothy Greenamyre, MD, PhD, of Emory University. "These studies on monkeys, therefore, support our previous findings that chronic pesticide exposure may be capable of causing parkinsonian pathology in humans." The results also support epi
Contact: Leah Ariniello
Society for Neuroscience