What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition that affects a person’s control of their body movements. It is not contagious and is thought to have a genetic aspect.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the middle area of the brain. This causes a lack of dopamine, a chemical messenger necessary for smooth, controlled movements. The symptoms appear when about 70 per cent of the dopamine-producing cells have stopped working normally.
Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. With a combination of medication and multidisciplinary support, people with Parkinson’s disease can live independent and productive lives.
How Is MTHFR + Methylation Related to Parkinson’s Disease?
Elevated homocysteine commonly seen in disordered methylation and MTHFR gene mutations could lay a strong role in Parkinson’s Disease onset. This is due to the oxidative stress, DNA damage and overall cell damage that can be caused if it is too high. These negative side effects of elevated homocysteine are key mechanisms involved in the neuro-degeneration that is occurring the Parkinson’s Disease.
1. Zhu et al (2013) examined evidence to uncover an association between MTHFR C677T and the risk of PD, with overall risk found to be increased in European populations compared with Asian populations.
2. This review article by Rozycka et al (2014) discusses the harmful effects elevated homocysteine (Hcy) levels can play on diseases affecting brain function such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. This is due to evidence demonstrating High Hcy to have a toxic effect upon the brain, contributing to degeneration of brain tissue through oxidative damage, cell death, calcium accumulation and excessive stimulation.
High Hcy can in part reflect nutritional deficiencies involved in the methylation pathway, being B12, folate and B6. Genetic polymorphisms involved in folate metabolism (such as MTHFR C677T & A1298C) have be found to be generally increased in patients with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as reduced concentrations of B vitamins. Increased levels of Hcy in Parkinson’s disease could potentially lead to dementia, depression and progression of the disease.
While this article highlights the effect of homocysteine on brain function, it also highlights the importance of sufficient nutrition to allow our methylation cycles to function sufficiently. This ensures our brain tissue is not damaged by high homocysteine.