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Higher Iron Levels in Blood May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease

Tuesday June 04, 2013

Christine Hsu

Counsel & Heal - A new study has found an association between higher iron levels and lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

The latest research, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, looked at whether there was a link between serum iron levels and the risk of Parkinson's disease.

The causes of Parkinson's disease are currently unknown. However, previous studies have revealed that Parkinson's patients have lower blood levels of iron.

In the new study, scientists estimated the effect of blood iron levels on the risk of Parkinson's disease by looking at three polymorphisms in two genes, HFE and TMPRSS6. Polymorphism occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis combining the results of studies investigating the genetic effect on iron levels and a meta-analysis of studies investigating the genetic effect on the risk of Parkinson´s disease for each polymorphism.

Afterwards, investigators performed three separate Mendelian randomization analyses to estimate the effect of iron on Parkinson disease for the three polymorphisms.

The findings revealed a statistically significant odds ratio of 0.97 for Parkinson's disease per 10 μg/dl increase in iron, corresponding to a 3% reduction in the risk of Parkinson´s disease for every 10 μg/dl increase in blood iron.

Researchers explained that because genotype influences on blood levels represent difference that generally persist throughout adult life, the latest findings reflects an effect of iron over the course of a lifetime.

Investigators said the latest findings suggest that increased iron levels in the bloos are associated with a 3 percent relative reduction in the risk of Parkinson's diease for every 10 μg/dl increase in iron.

Study authors conclude that increased blood iron levels may have a protective effect against Parkinson's disease.