In Utero Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections as a Rick Factor for Parkinson’s Disease

Dave Anthony Gayle, Ph.D.
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center
Chicago, IL

It has been hypothesized that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by exposure to an environmental factor that induces dopamine (DA) neuron death during life followed by ageing-related cell loss, which brings the individual to the symptomatic level later in life. Most assume that the environmental factor occurs during mid-life. Recent data from our laboratory, however, suggest that in utero exposure to Gram (-) infections which activate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines can cause significant cell loss in the fetus thereby leaving the fetus with fewer DA neurons at the start of life. Provided that normal ageing-related cell loss continues, such an individual would be at increased risk for the development of PD. The estimated preclinical event is unkown, increased oxidative stress secondary DA neurons as result of Gram-negative exposure in utero, would, therefore, be at increased risk for PD. This here-to-fore unrecognized risk factor for PD will be examined in the specific am of this proposal and will address the hypothesis that in utero Gram (-) infections represent a risk factor for PD.