Parkinson's Disease in Ferrara, Italy, 1967 Through 1987

Section of Neuroepidemiology, University of Ferrara, Italy.
JAMA Neurology (Impact Factor: 7.42). 09/1991; 48(8):854-7. DOI: 10.1001/archneur.1991.00530200096026
Source: PubMed


Epidemiological surveys on Parkinson's disease that have been carried out in different parts of the world have suggested that the disease is uniformly distributed in white populations. The position with regard to the Mediterranean peoples is still controversial, because of the large variation of the frequencies observed in the different areas that have been investigated. We therefore studied the frequency of Parkinson's disease in the Local Health Service of Ferrara, northeastern Italy (mean population, 187,000). Based on 394 patients, the mean incidence per year for the period from 1967 through 1987 was 10.01/100,000. The incidence rate of Parkinson's disease among cases with early onset was found to be statistically higher in rural areas as compared with urban ones (6.32/100,000 vs 3.11/100,000). Moreover, the study revealed a significantly higher incidence rate among agricultural workers (20.6/100,000). These results would seem to give further support to the hypothesis of a possible causal role of environmental factors that are mainly linked to agriculture, most likely due to the continual exposure to toxic agents in this area. However, further studies, which are not exclusively epidemiological, are necessary before any conclusions may be drawn, because many confounding variables may account for the results from surveys of this type.

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    • "Several variables (including susceptibility to the disease, age at onset, symptoms) support the existence of a sex difference in PD (Miller and Cronin-Golomb, 2010). While most studies report a higher predisposition of PD in men (Van Den Eeden et al., 2003; Wooten et al., 2004; Shulman, 2007), sex is not considered a risk factor in a few studies (Granieri et al., 1991; de Rijk et al., 1995). Men have at least a 1.5-fold greater risk than women of developing PD (Van Den Eeden et al., 2003; Wooten et al., 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of a sex difference in Parkinson's disease (PD) is observed as related to several variables, including susceptibility of the disease, age at onset, and symptoms. These differences between men and women represent a significant characteristic of PD, which suggest that estrogens may exert beneficial effects against the development and the progression of the disease. This paper reviews the neuroprotective and neuromodulator effects of 17β-estradiol and progesterone as compared to androgens in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic (NSDA) system of both female and male rodents. The 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mice model of PD and methamphetamine toxicity faithfully reproduce the sex differences of PD in that endogenous estrogen levels appear to influence the vulnerability to toxins targeting the NSDA system. Exogenous 17β-estradiol and/or progesterone treatments show neuroprotective properties against NSDA toxins while androgens fail to induce any beneficial effect. Sex steroid treatments show male and female differences in their neuroprotective action against methamphetamine toxicity. NSDA structure and function, as well as the distribution of estrogen receptors, show sex differences and may influence the susceptibility to the toxins and the response to sex steroids. Genomic and non-genomic actions of 17β-estradiol converge to promote survival factors and the presence of both estrogen receptors α and β are critical to 17β-estradiol neuroprotective action against MPTP toxicity.
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