Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by degeneration of nig:rostriatal dopaminergic neurons including the loss of cell bodies in the pars compacta of substantia nigra (SN). The mechanism for neurodegeneration is unknown, but the pathogenesis is considered to be multifactorial involving exposure for toxins, genetic inheritance, age, oxidative stress and mitochondrial electron transport chain defects. This study has been focused on polymorphisms in the genes for the enzymes monoamine oxidase A and B (MAO-A, MAO-B) and relation to smoking for the development of idiopathic Parkinson's disease. MAO enzymes are important in the dopamine metabolism and in the detoxification of neurotoxins. During metabolism of dopamine, MAO generates large amounts of free radicals and hydrogen peroxide, and may damage the neurons in substantia nigra, which has been suggested as a pathologic mechanism for PD.
Blood samples were collected from 256 PD patients, age 30-80 years, and 582 unrelated control individuals, age 31 - 78 years, from southeastern Sweden.
Two polymorphisms (exon 8 and exon 14) located in the MAO-A gene and one polymorphism located in the MA O-B gene were examined, with denatming HPLC, PCR-RFLP or DNA sequencing. Genotype and allele frequencies were determined for patients and controls. No statistical significant difference was revealed between any of the polymorphisms in the MAO-A and MAO-B genes and Parkinson's disease. Smoking displayed an enviromnental exposure with a strong decreased risk for both male (OR=0.40, 95% CI 0.25 - 0.63) and female (OR=0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.89) PD without any interaction with MAO genotype.
The polymorphisms in MAO genes might therefore not be acting as modifiers of risk for developing of PD either by itself or by interacting with smoking. With respect to the size of the study (256 PD patients and 582 controls) MAO polymorphisms do not represent any predisposing factor or a weak PD susceptibility factor.