Astrocyte dysfunction following molybdenum-associated purine loading could initiate Parkinson's disease with dementia

NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2018 Mar 20;4:7. doi: 10.1038/s41531-018-0045-5. eCollection 2018.


Sporadic or idiopathic Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder with a worldwide distribution, a long pre-clinical latent period and a frequent association with dementia. The combination of molybdenum deficiency and purine ingestion could explain the movement disorder, the distribution, the latent period and the dementia association. Recent studies in sheep have shown that molybdenum deficiency enables some dietary purines to accumulate in the central nervous system. This causes astrocyte dysfunction, altered neuromodulation and eventually irreversible central nervous system disease. Humans and sheep share the ability to salvage purines and this ability places humans at risk when they ingest xanthosine, inosine, adenosine and guanosine. Adenosine ingestion in molybdenum-deficient humans will lead to adenosine loading and potentially a disturbance to the A2a adenosine receptors in the nigro-striatum. This could result in Parkinson's disease. Guanosine ingestion in molybdenum-deficient humans will lead to guanosine loading and potentially a disturbance to the guanosine receptors in the hippocampus, amygdala and ventral striatum. This could result in dementia. The molybdenum content of the average daily diet in the United States is 0.07 ppm and in the United Kingdom 0.04 ppm. Central nervous system disease occurs in sheep at <0.04 ppm. Consistent with the role proposed for molybdenum deficiency in Parkinson's disease is the observation that affected individuals have elevated sulfur amino acid levels, depressed sulfate levels, and depressed uric acid levels. Likewise the geographical distribution of Parkinson's dementia complex on Guam corresponds with the distribution of molybdenum-deficient soils hence molybdenum-deficient food gardens on that island.

Publication types

  • Review