Editor's Highlight: Base Excision Repair Variants and Pesticide Exposure Increase Parkinson's Disease Risk

Toxicol Sci. 2017 Jul 1;158(1):188-198. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfx086.


Exposure to certain pesticides induces oxidative stress and increases Parkinson's disease (PD) risk. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage is found in dopaminergic neurons in idiopathic PD and following pesticide exposure in experimental models thereof. Base excision repair (BER) is the major pathway responsible for repairing oxidative DNA damage in cells. Whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in BER genes alone or in combination with pesticide exposure influence PD risk is unknown. We investigated the contributions of functional SNPs in 2 BER genes (APEX1 and OGG1) and mitochondrial dysfunction- or oxidative stress-related pesticide exposure, including paraquat, to PD risk. We also studied the effect of paraquat on levels of mtDNA damage and mitochondrial bioenergetics. 619 PD patients and 854 population-based controls were analyzed for the 2 SNPs, APEX1 rs1130409 and OGG1 rs1052133. Ambient pesticide exposures were assessed with a geographic information system. Individually, or in combination, the BER SNPs did not influence PD risk. Mitochondrial-inhibiting (OR = 1.79, 95% CI [1.32, 2.42]), oxidative stress-inducing pesticides (OR = 1.61, 95% CI [1.22, 2.11]), and paraquat (OR = 1.54, 95% CI [1.23, 1.93]) were associated with PD. Statistical interactions were detected, including for a genetic risk score based on rs1130409 and rs1052133 and oxidative stress inducing pesticides, where highly exposed carriers of both risk genotypes were at the highest risk of PD (OR = 2.21, 95% CI [1.25, 3.86]); similar interactions were estimated for mitochondrial-inhibiting pesticides and paraquat alone. Additionally, paraquat exposure was found to impair mitochondrial respiration and increase mtDNA damage in in vivo and in vitro systems. Our findings provide insight into possible mechanisms involved in increased PD risk due to pesticide exposure in the context of BER genotype variants.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; base excision repair; gene-environment interaction; mitochondrial DNA; paraquat; pesticides.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Pesticides