A recent NHS Choices critical appraisal has covered research which has been misunderstood by the media as implying that living in mouldy environments can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease.
Researchers exposed fruit flies to 1-octen-3-ol; a molecule produced by fungi which is responsible for their characteristic musty smell. It that was found in the flies exposed to the molecules had more difficulty with movement, loss of dopamine neurons, reduced levels of dopamine and tended to die earlier.
Exposure of laboratory grown human embryo kidney cells to the same molecule in the laboratory had a similar impact on the dopamine system. It resulted in difficulties transporting dopamine into the cells.
The NHS Choices appraisal concludes that the level of exposure required for there to be an effect on humans remains unknown and that further investigation would be needed before firm conclusions might be drawn. Large-scale epidemiological studies involving humans would be required to demonstrate any association between exposure to 1-octen-3-ol and increased risks of developing Parkinson’s Disease.
Role of fungal mould in Parkinson’s investigated. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, November 13th 2013.
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Inamdar, AA. Hossain, MM. [and] Bernstein, AI. [et al] (2013). Fungal-derived semiochemical 1-octen-3-ol disrupts dopamine packaging and causes neurodegeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, November 11th 2013. [Epub ahead of print]. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).