Although international genome-wide studies have revealed significant links between certain genes and an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, research on the correlation conducted by a research team at National Taiwan University Hospital showed different results for Taiwanese people.
Presenting the findings at a press conference held in Taipei to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the National Taiwan University Hospital’s Center for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders, center convener and the hospital’s neurology division director Wu Ruey-mei (吳瑞美) said that studies conducted in Europe and Japan indicated that gene polymorphisms of genes BST1, FBOX7, GAK, HLA-DRA, RIT2 and STX6 could play a key role in the development of idiopathic, or non-hereditary, Parkinson’s disease, which accounts for about 95 percent of the cases of the disease.
The team examined whether a correlation exists in Taiwanese with the disease between Parkinson’s disease susceptibility genes and the risk of developing the condition.
It found that two specific genetic variants of FBOX7 could lead to early-onset Parkinson’s disease in Taiwanese, said Wu, a co-author of at least four of the research studies on the correlation.
The study confirmed that GAK is a Parkinson’s disease susceptibility gene found in a Taiwanese PD population, she added.
However, in Taiwanese, the gene polymorphisms of HLA-DRA, RIT2, STX6, VDR and BST1 are not found to correlate with increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, as found in foreign studies, according to the team.
While the BST1 rs11724635 polymorphism is not associated with an increased risk of the disease in Taiwan, people with the gene variant are nevertheless 1.6 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease if they use water from a well than those with the variant who do not use well water, according to a study on how environmental factors interact with the gene
Wu said this might have to do with the heavy metals that have contaminated underground water.