Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary? 2023

Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary? 2023
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Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary? 2023

Out of all reported cases of Parkinson’s Disease, 10-15% of patients have an inherited genetic risk factor that may have triggered the disease. Meaning, most cases of Parkinson’s Disease are NOT hereditary. Only early-onset Parkinson’s is believed to occur most likely from an inherited gene mutation. For instance, if you have a first-degree family member affected by Parkinson’s, your chances of developing Parkinson’s increases by about 3%. 

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that mainly affects movement. 

The severity of Parkinson’s symptoms increases gradually. At first, the affected may experience difficulty in movement, balance, and coordination. Moreover, shaking of the body and stiffness worsen over time. As the disease progresses, moving freely becomes impossible, and everyday activity requires specialized care.

What are the early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease?

According to the reported cases of Parkinson’s disease, healthcare professionals have concluded the early signs of Parkinson’s disease development. It is essential to understand here that Parkinson’s symptoms vary from person to person, and it does not mean that you could only encounter the signs listed below.

  • A tremor starts with a slight shaking of the finger.
  • Trouble smelling strong or distinct odors.
  • Sleep disturbances become evident.
  • Body stiffness occurs, which increases in intensity over time.

Some other early signs include constipation, vocal changes when speaking, and dizziness.

Who is at risk for Parkinson’s disease?

The exact causes of Parkinson’s disease are still unknown. Most researchers believe that a single problem does not cause this neurological disorder. Instead, it is a combination of several risk factors, environmental and genetic factors, which lead to the development of Parkinson’s. Furthermore, the severity of the characteristics and their extent varies from person to person. Advancing age is the most significant risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, males are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than females.

Scientists have studied the genetic changes that occur after Parkinson’s disease has developed with advancements in DNA and gene research. They have found more than a dozen genetic mutations associated with the disease. They are learning what role each one of the mutated genes plays in disease development or protection. Suppose we ponder on the question is Parkinson’s hereditary disease?. In that case, the answer right now is that Parkinson’s results are due to a combination of various factors like genetic mutations, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices.

Several population-based studies give us an insight that if a person has a mutated gene inherited from their family, the chances one can develop Parkinson’s fall between four to nine percent.

Classification of Parkinson’s genes

The genes involved in Parkinson’s disease are classified as causal genes and associated genes. Let’s dig in a bit to find out what information is available on the mutated genes.

Causal genes

These mutated genes are only inherited by the offspring from their parent and can cause Parkinson’s disease. However, reported cases of Parkinson’s disease tell us that these mutations rarely cause the disease and are solely responsible for only 1-2% of the disease cases

One famous example of causal genes is the SNCA gene. This gene can produce a protein named alpha-synuclein. What this protein does in our brain is still unknown. Five mutations of the SNCA gene have been found, which can cause Parkinson’s disease to develop.

To understand the link between Parkinson’s and inherited gene mutation, scientists conducted a study on a large family in Iowa known as” Spellman-Muenter kindred.” A complete genomic profile of the family was carried out, which helped the researchers identify two hundred family members of the same family, with and without Parkinson’s disease. This study shed light on the genetic cause of Parkinson’s in the family and found the SNCA causal gene to be responsible. The answer to the query that is Parkinson’s hereditary disease can only be right in inherited Parkinson’s disease, which has an SNCA gene mutation.

Naturally, every one of us has one copy of the SNCA gene at chromosome number four. In the case of inherited Parkinson’s disease, the affected were identified as having three copies of the SNCA gene, which cause the development of alpha-synuclein more than others. Furthermore, the extra genes led to the development of Parkinson’s disease early on in life. Other causal genes that produce the protein alpha-synuclein are GIGYF2 and PARK13.

Associated genes

It should be understood that all the associated genes cannot cause Parkinson’s disease directly. Instead, these mutated genes increase the chances of one developing the disease. Also, having an associated gene does not mean that you will eventually develop the disease. Agreeing with the question is Parkinson’s hereditary disease might not be accurate as a combination of genetic and environmental factors triggers Parkinson’s disease. Below is the list of associated genes:

  • PRKN gene: This gene makes up the parkin protein, an essential component of the multiprotein named ubiquitin ligase. The exact function of the parkin protein is still to be discovered.
  • PINK1 gene: Is responsible for making a unique protein that performs its functions in the heart and musculoskeletal muscles.
  • LRRK2 gene: A brain protein named dardarin is encoded by the LRRK2 gene found in the brain. Usually, the protein acts as a mediator by transporting phosphate to other proteins. The gene mutation of the LRRK2 gene is commonly associated with developing Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • PARK7 gene: Makes DJ-1, another protein found in the brain with antioxidant properties and helps other cellular processes.

Mutations of the GBA gene and UCHL1 are also genes whose modification can result in Parkinson’s disease. The LRRK2 gene is the most widespread gene common in Portugal, North Africa, Basque, and the tribe of Ashkenazi Jews. This gene mutation does not develop at a specific age.  Instead, it can manifest as early as 30 years or as late as 80 years. Moreover, LRRK2 gene mutation has also been reported to cause dementia and other diseases.

Conclusion – Is Parkinson’s Disease Hereditary?

Parkinson’s disease can be inherited but only in the rare cases of SNCA gene mutations. Many other risk factors are also involved in developing Parkinson’s disease. Do consult your healthcare professional if you need further clarification on Parkinson’s disease or if you want to test for any genetic changes. 

Healthcare professionals are already searching for an answer to whether or not Parkinson’s Disease is hereditary. 

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