Parkinson's Disease (PD) is the second most common chronic neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of dopamine neurons, leading to rigidity, slowness of movement, rest tremor, gait disturbances, and imbalance. Although there is effective symptomatic treatment for PD, there is no proven preventative or regenerative therapy. The etiology of this disorder remains unknown. Recent genetic studies have identified mutations in alpha-synuclein as a rare cause of autosomal dominant familial PD and mutations in parkin as a cause of autosomal recessive familial PD. The more common sporadic form of PD is thought to be due to oxidative stress and derangements in mitochondrial complex I activity. Understanding the mechanism by which familial linked mutations and oxidative stress cause PD has tremendous potential for unraveling the mechanisms of dopamine cell death in PD. In this article, we review recent advances in the understanding of the role of genetics and oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of PD.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.