HealthDay News — A gene mutation has been identified that could be associated with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in Neurobiology of Aging.

Auriel Willette, PhD, and Joseph Webb, from Iowa State University in Ames, compared 289 patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but not on medication, and 233 healthy individuals.

Overall, those with 1 mutated version of the guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase-1 (GCH1) gene had a 23% increased risk of Parkinson’s and developed disease symptoms an average of 5 years earlier. Age made a significant difference. Adults younger than 50 with the gene mutation had a 45% higher risk of the disease, while the mutation had a minimal effect on older adults, the study authors said.

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“We want to have a more comprehensive understanding of what these genes related to Parkinson’s are doing at different points in someone’s lifetime,” Dr Willette said in a university news release. “Then, with genetic testing we can determine the risk for illness based on someone’s age, gender, weight, and other intervening factors.”


Webb J, Willette AA. Aging modifies the effect of GCH1 RS11158026 on DAT uptake and Parkinson’s disease clinical severity. Neurobiol Aging. 2016;50:39-46.