Elevated serum pesticide levels and risk of Parkinson disease

Jason R. Richardson, Stuart L. Shalat, Brian Buckley, Bozena Winnik, Padraig O'Suilleabhain, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, Joan Reisch, Dwight C. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


Background: Exposure to pesticides has been reported to increase the risk of Parkinson disease (PD), but identification of the specific pesticides is lacking. Three studies have found elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides in postmortem PD brains. Objective: To determine whether elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides are present in the serum of patients with PD. Design: Case-control study. Setting: An academic medical center. Participants:: Fifty patients with PD, 43 controls, and 20 patients with Alzheimer disease. Main Outcome Measures: Levels of 16 organochlorine pesticides in serum samples. Results: β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) was more often detectable in patients with PD (76%) compared with controls (40%) and patients with Alzheimer disease (30%). The median level of β-HCH was higher in patients with PD compared with controls and patients with Alzheimer disease. There were no marked differences in detection between controls and patients with PD concerning any of the other 15 organochlorine pesticides. Finally, we observed a significant odds ratio for the presence of β-HCH in serum to predict a diagnosis of PD vs control (odds ratio, 4.39; 95% confidence interval, 1.67-11.6) and PD vs Alzheimer disease (odds ratio, 5.20), which provides further evidence for the apparent association between serum β-HCH and PD. Conclusions: These data suggest that β-HCH is associated with a diagnosis of PD. Further research is warranted regarding the potential role of β-HCH as a etiologic agent for some cases of PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-875
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Neurology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this