Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Parkinson's Gene Boosts Risk 50%

Finding Points to Future Preventive Treatments
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 8, 2006 -- A specific genetic mutation makes a person 50% more susceptible to Parkinson's diseaseParkinson's disease, an 18-nation study shows.

Mayo Clinic researchers, including Demetrius M. Maraganore, MD, analyzed clinical and genetic data from 2,692 Parkinson's patients and from 2,652 age- and sex-matched healthy people.

The researchers focused on the gene that encodes a protein called alpha-synuclein or SNCA. Although only a small fraction of Parkinson's patients have SNCA gene mutations, all patients with Parkinson's disease have abnormal amounts of SNCA protein in their brains.

The gene mutation directly causes Parkinson's disease in the rare people unlucky enough to have inherited two identical copies of the mutant gene. More often, a person has a single copy of the gene -- which combines with other genetic risk factors to cause Parkinson's disease.

Maraganore and colleagues estimate that the SNCA gene mutation accounts for 3% of the cause of Parkinson's disease.

"The common DNA variants that increase Parkinson's disease risk cause the gene to produce too much alpha-synuclein protein," Maraganore says, in a news release. "Our findings support the development of therapies that reduce alpha-synuclein gene expression. Such therapies have the potential to prevent or delay the onset of Parkinson's disease or to halt or slow its progression."

The researchers report their findings in the Aug. 9 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Eating Right
Parkinsons Exercise
daughter consoling depressed mother
senior man's hands
Parkinsons Daily