Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease: A Nutritional Toxicology Perspective of the Impact of Oxidative Stress, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Nutrigenomics and Environmental Chemicals

J Am Coll Nutr. 2020 Jan;39(1):16-27. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1683379. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


Introduction: Alzheimer's disease is primarily a dementia-related disorder from progressive cognitive deterioration and memory impairment, while Parkinson's disease is primarily a movement disorder illness having movement disorder symptoms, bradykinesia (slowness of movements), hypokinesia (reduction of movement amplitude), and akinesia (absence of normal unconscious movements) along with muscle rigidity and tremor at rest. While aging is the main risk factor, epidemiological evidence suggests that the exposure to environmental toxicants, mainly pesticides, metals and solvents could increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions.Oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases: Mitochondria function impacts cell respiratory processes, metabolism, energy production, intracellular signaling, free radical production, and apoptosis. In neurodegenerative diseases, mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a compromised energy production, impaired calcium buffering, activation of proteases and phospholipases, and increased oxidative stress. Oxidative stress induced microglial cells activation, protein aggregation, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction lead to neuronal deaths in these disorders.Role of nutrition: Neurodegenerative disease is not curable, but treatment is available to manage the symptoms and slow down the disease progression. The drugs for treating these diseases only reduce the cognitive impairment and behavioral problems, but do not stop the progression of neurodegeneration. Healthy diet, lifestyle improvement and nutraceuticals targeting of oxidative stress, inflammation, abnormal mitochondrial dynamics and the mitochondrial interaction with abnormal disease-related proteins and assessment of impact of environmental contaminants including occupational exposures to pesticides, can be a promising approach in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.Conclusion: These innovations can be benchmarked on firm understanding of nutrigenomics and the personalized management of individuals at risk.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Environmental toxicants; Mitochondrial Dysfunction; Neuropsychiatric disorders; Nutraceuticals; Nutrigenomics; Nutritional management; Oxidative stress; Parkinson’s disease; Pesticides and neurodegeneration. Xenobiotics and metabolism; metabolic disturbances.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / chemically induced
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Diet, Healthy / methods
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Metals / toxicity
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Nutrigenomics / methods*
  • Nutrition Therapy / methods*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / therapy*
  • Pesticides / toxicity
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Solvents / toxicity


  • Metals
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents