Brain organochlorines and Lewy pathology: the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study

Mov Disord. 2012 Sep 15;27(11):1418-24. doi: 10.1002/mds.25144. Epub 2012 Sep 13.


Although organochlorines have been reported more frequently in Parkinson's disease (PD) brains than in controls, the association with brain Lewy pathology is unknown. Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (HAAS) participants, exposed to organochlorines from a variety of sources during midlife, represent a population well suited to determining the relationship of brain organochlorines with Lewy pathology in decedents from the longitudinal HAAS. The study design included the measurement of 21 organochlorine levels in frozen occipital lobe samples from HAAS decedents. Alpha-synuclein immunostaining performed on 225 brains was used to identify Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites. With the potential for spurious associations to appear between Lewy pathology and 17 organochlorine compounds found in at least 1 brain, initial assessments identified heptachlor epoxide isomer b, methoxychlor, and benzene hexachloride b as being most important. The prevalence of Lewy pathology was 75% (6 of 8) among brains with any 2 of the 3 compounds, 48.8% (79 of 162) among those with 1, and 32.7% (18 of 55) for those with neither (P = .007 test for trend). Although findings persisted after removing cases with PD and dementia with Lewy bodies and after adjustment for age at death, body mass index, pack-years of cigarette smoking, and coffee intake (P = .013), the results were insignificant when correcting for multiple testing. Although consistent with earlier accounts of an association between organochlorines and clinical PD, associations with Lewy pathology warrant further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Asian Americans
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / metabolism*
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology*
  • Male


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated