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Case-only study of interactions between specific genetic polymorphisms and cigarette smoking in the aetiology of Parkinson's disease

By Yifu Deng


The aetiology of Parkinson's disease (PD) is still unclear. Research findings suggest that both environmental and genetic factors may contribute to its development. The interactions between genes and the environment might exist and play a key role. Cigarette smoking was found to be one of the few factors exhibiting a protective effect. If chemical compounds found in cigarette smoke influence PD risk, the difference in the ability of certain individuals in metabolising these substances might alter their susceptibility to the risk of developing PD. Many metabolic enzyme genes exhibit polymorphic traits with alteration of gene function. These might be associated with an altered susceptibility of individuals to PD. Few studies have examined the hypothesis that metabolic enzyme gene polymorphisms might modulate the effect of smoking on PD risk. However, it is crucial to consider these potential interactions when we try to elucidate the aetiology of PD. Even if each factor only contributes a slight variation and influences a small portion of the whole population, non-linear and unpredictable interactions may account for a high proportion of the aetiological fraction. Previous studies have not been strictly designed to examine the interactions between smoking and metabolic enzyme genetic polymorphisms. These studies have not been able to elucidate the extent of the interaction. Therefore, this PhD project attempted to examine whether genetic factors, operating in the phase one and phase two metabolic pathways, interact with smoking to influence the development of PD. This is the first genetic epidemiological study of PD specifically addressing this issue. The research aids in further understanding the aetiology of PD and may be useful for identifying people at higher risk. A case-only design was chosen for this project for two reasons: first, PD is a relatively rare disease and the case-only design is much more efficient at detecting gene-environment interactions; second, the PD cases for the project were recruited over the past few years and represent a prevalence series, for which an appropriate comparison group for the cases is difficult to identify and recruit. In a case-only study, only cases are used to investigate the multiplicative effects of the exposures and susceptible genotypes of interest, while non-case subjects (traditionally controls) are solely used to test the independence between the exposure and the susceptible genotype. Therefore, this approach avoids the challenges of control selection, a major limitation inherent in the case-control approach. This thesis comprised of three independent studies: the first study investigated the interactions between genetic polymorphisms of GSTM1, P1, T1 and Z1 and smoking in PD; the second study examined the interactions between genetic polymorphisms of CYP2E1 and smoking in PD; and the third study examined the interactions between genetic polymorphisms of CYP2D6 and smoking in PD. The first two studies recruited 400 white Caucasian PD cases from both hospital wards and private neurology clinics (230 men and 170 women). The third study further included 142 white Caucasian PD cases newly recruited from the same sources (542 in total, 321 men, and 221 women). The mean age of cases was 67 years with the average onset age at 60 years. GSTM1, GSTP1, GSTT1, GSTZ1 AND CYP2E1 genotyping processes were performed using protocols previously published with minor modification, whereas CYP2D6 genotyping methods were mainly developed by me with assistance from associate supervisor Dr. George Mellick. Reliability and validity of the PCR and RFLP methods were assessed through re-conducting the genotype assays using at least a 10% sample of our DNA samples. The results for all re-assessments were 100% concordant. Crude bivariate analyses were adjusted for potential confounding effects of the variables, including age at onset, gender, family history of PD and pesticide exposures. Among our unaffected, aged subjects (mean age: 63.9 years, sd: 11.4 years), the genotype frequencies at each locus were similar to those reported in other Caucasian populations. The first study showed that the proportion of carriers of the GSTP1-114Val allele (mutant) increased with increasing smoking dose from 0 to > 30 pack-years. Homozygotes of the 114Ala allele (wild-type) decreased with increasing smoking dose (trend test: p=0.02). This trend existed both in male and female cases. This dose-effect relationship was most significant in the group of cases with late-onset PD (i.e., age at onset > 55 years) with the ORicase-only values of 1.88 (95%CI: 0.65-5.48) and 2.63 (95%CI: 1.07-6.49) for > 0-10 and > 10 pack-years, respectively. No similar trend was found among our unaffected, aged subjects (p=0.42). Haplotype analyses revealed significant differences for GSTP1 haplotypes between smoking and non-smoking PD cases (ORicase-only for *C haplotype=2.00 (95%CI: 1.11-3.60), p=0.03). In this case, smoking-exposed PD cases were more likely to posses the *C haplotype defined by A to G base-pair transition at nucleotide +313 and C to T base-pair transition at nucleotide +341 (at amino acid level, valine at both positions 105 and 114). The second study found no difference in CYP2E1 genotype frequencies between PD cases who ever smoked compared to those who never smoked (odds ratio for interaction (ORi) = 1.00 (95% CI: 0.39-2.51, p=0.99)). No CYP2E1 gene-smoking interactions were detected in relation to age at onset of PD. The third study found that among cases without regular pesticide exposures, CYP2D6 PMs who smoked more than 5 pack-years had a later mean age at disease onset (68.6 years) than those with extensive metaboliser phenotypes (EMs) (61.1 years, p=0.02) and non-smokers (60.5 years, p=0.01). Analysis of aged subjects without PD confirmed that neither smoking status nor CYP2D6 PM status was associated with age itself. Our data suggest: 1. smoking exposure is independent of GSTM1, P1, T1, Z1 and CYP2E1 genotypes; 2. smoking may be, to some extent, associated with CYP2D6 genotypes; 3. there are no multiplicative interactive effects linking smoking and GSTM1, T1, Z1 or CYP2E1 genotypes with the risk for PD; 4. there is a multiplicative interactive effect between smoking and GSTP1 haplotype - particularly for genotypes carrying the 114Val allele; and 5. there is a multiplicative interactive effect between smoking and CYP2D6 PMs - particularly for people who ever smoked cigarettes more than 5 pack-years. In general, this thesis provides a model for exploring the gene-smoking interactions in PD. Further studies need to consider the recruitment of a large number of population-based and randomly-selected samples and to pay more attention to measurement of environmental exposures. Further studies also need to examine simultaneously the impact of smoking, pesticide exposures and other potential risk factors on PD. These studies will build evidence for interactions contributing to this common neurological movement disorder

Topics: Parkinson’s disease, smoking, GSTM1, GSTP1, GSTT1, GSTZ1, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, gene-environment interaction
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

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