Genes associated with Parkinson's disease respond to increasing polychlorinated biphenyl levels in the blood of healthy females

Environ Pollut. 2019 Jul;250:107-117. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of widespread environmental pollutants, commonly found in human blood, that have been suggested to be linked to the occurrence of sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). It has been reported that some non-coplanar PCBs accumulate in the brains of female PD patients. To improve our understanding of the association between PCB exposure and PD risk we have applied whole transcriptome gene expression analysis in blood cells from 594 PCB-exposed subjects (369 female, 225 male). Interestingly, we observe that in females, blood levels of non-coplanar PCBs appear to be associated with expression levels of PD-specific genes. However, no such association was detected in males. Among the 131 PD-specific genes affected, 39 have been shown to display similar changes in expression levels in the substantia nigra of deceased PD patients. Especially among the down-regulated genes, transcripts of genes involved in neurotransmitter vesicle-related functions were predominant.

Keywords: Environment; Linear mixed model; MicroArray; Parkinson; Polychlorinated biphenyls; Transcriptomics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / blood
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood*
  • Sex Factors
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls