Mould In Your Home Could Cause Parkinson’s Symptoms


Mould causes Parkinson’s symptoms. Click to enlarge. Picture is copyright.

A compound emitted by mould that grows on walls in damp homes may be linked to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to new research published this week.

Scientists have found that the mould compound – popularly known as mushroom alcohol – has the potential to damage dopamine, the chemical released by nerve cells to send messages to other nerve cells in the brain, and so cause Parkinson’s symptoms.

Fruit flies have revealed a connection between mould alcohol and the malfunction of two genes involved in the packaging and transport of dopamine, according to scientists at Rutgers and Emory universities in the US who made the discovery.

Arati Inamdar. Picture courtesy Rutgers.

Arati Inamdar. Picture courtesy Rutgers.

Parkinson’s has been linked to exposure to environmental toxins, but the toxins were man-made chemicals,” said Arati Inamdar, a researcher in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers.

The findings were published online on Monday 11 November 2013 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“In this paper, we show that biologic compounds have the potential to damage dopamine and cause Parkinson’s symptoms,” explained Inamdar

Joan Bennett. Picture courtesy Rutgers.

Joan Bennett. Picture courtesy Rutgers.

For co-author Joan Bennett, also from Rutgers, and an expert in fungi, the research was more than academic. Bennett had been working at Tulane University in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Her flooded house became infested with moulds, which she collected in samples, wearing a mask, gloves and protective gear.

I felt horrible – headaches, dizziness, nausea,” said Bennett, now a professor of plant pathology and biology at Rutgers. “I knew something about ‘sick building syndrome’ but until then I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t think it would be possible to breathe in enough mould spores to get sick.” That is when she formed her hypothesis that volatile chemicals might be involved, implicating mould alcohol.

Inamdar, who uses fruit flies in her research, and Bennett began their study shortly after Bennett arrived at Rutgers. Bennett wanted to understand the connection between moulds and symptoms like those she had experienced following Katrina.

The scientists discovered that the volatile organic compound 1-octen-3-ol, otherwise known as mushroom alcohol, can cause movement disorders in flies, similar to those observed in the presence of pesticides, such as paraquat and rotenone. Further, they discovered that it attacked two genes that deal with dopamine, degenerating the neurons and causing the Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Studies indicate that Parkinson’s disease – a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movement – is increasing in rural areas, where it’s usually attributed to pesticide exposure. But rural environments also have a lot of mould and mushroom exposure.

Our work suggests that 1-octen-3-ol might also be connected to the disease, particularly for people with a genetic susceptibility to it,” Inamdar said. “We’ve given the epidemiologists some new avenues to explore.”

Bennett, also associate vice president for the promotion of women in science, engineering and mathematics at Rutgers, and Inamdar were joined by co-author Muhammad Hossein and Jason Richardson from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Alison Bernstein and Gary Miller of Emory University.

The study was funded by Rutgers and the National Institutes of Health.

Abstract from research paper:

Parkinson disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder and, although the exact causes are unknown, recent epidemiological and experimental studies indicate that several environmental agents may be significant risk factors. To date, these suspected environmental risk factors have been man-made chemicals. In this report, we demonstrate via genetic, biochemical, and immunological studies that the common volatile fungal semiochemical 1-octen-3-ol reduces dopamine levels and causes dopamine neuron degeneration in Drosophila melanogaster. Overexpression of the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT) rescued the dopamine toxicity and neurodegeneration, whereas mutations decreasing VMAT and tyrosine hydroxylase exacerbated toxicity. Furthermore, 1-octen-3-ol also inhibited uptake of dopamine in human cell lines expressing the human plasma membrane dopamine transporter (DAT) and human VMAT ortholog, VMAT2. These data demonstrate that 1-octen-3-ol exerts toxicity via disruption of dopamine homeostasis and may represent a naturally occurring environmental agent involved in parkinsonism.


Fungal-derived semiochemical 1-octen-3-ol disrupts dopamine packaging and causes neurodegeneration” by Arati A. Inamdar, Muhammad M. Hossain, Alison I. Bernstein, Gary W. Miller, Jason R. Richardson, and Joan Wennstrom Bennett. PNAS, November 2013 doi:10.1073/pnas.1318830110

Read abstract and get paper here.

Source: This  story is based on materials courtesy Rutgers University here.

Spare a moment…

If you found this article thought provoking or informative then please take a second to Like it and share it with friends and colleagues via social networking using the buttons below.  And if you enjoy reading this kind of article then press the follow button!


Comments are closed.

  • Copyright © 2014. iExpon Limited
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 81,674 other followers

%d bloggers like this: