Pathologic features of Parkinson's disease (PD) include death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, presence of α-synuclein containing Lewy bodies, and iron accumulation in PD-related brain regions. The observed iron accumulation may be contributing to PD etiology but it also may be a byproduct of cell death or cellular dysfunction. To elucidate the possible role of iron accumulation in PD, we investigated genetic variation in 16 genes related to iron homeostasis in three case-control studies from the United States, Australia, and France. After screening 90 haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the genes of interest in the US study population, we investigated the five most promising gene regions in two additional independent case-control studies. For the pooled data set (1289 cases, 1391 controls) we observed a protective association (OR=0.83, 95% CI: 0.71-0.96) between PD and a haplotype composed of the A allele at rs1880669 and the T allele at rs1049296 in transferrin (TF; GeneID: 7018). Additionally, we observed a suggestive protective association (OR=0.87, 95% CI: 0.74-1.02) between PD and a haplotype composed of the G allele at rs10247962 and the A allele at rs4434553 in transferrin receptor 2 (TFR2; GeneID: 7036). We observed no associations in our pooled sample for haplotypes in SLC40A1, CYB561, or HFE. Taken together with previous findings in model systems, our results suggest that TF or a TF-TFR2 complex may have a role in the etiology of PD, possibly through iron misregulation or mitochondrial dysfunction within dopaminergic neurons.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Genetics; Iron homeostasis; Pooled-analysis; Transferrin; Transferrin receptor 2.