Blood α-synuclein in agricultural pesticide handlers in central Washington State

Susan Searles Nielsen, Harvey Checkoway, Jing Zhang, Jonathan N. Hofmann, Matthew C. Keifer, Michael Paulsen, Federico M. Farin, Travis J. Cook, Christopher D. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies suggest that occupational exposure to pesticides might increase Parkinson disease risk. Some pesticides, such as the organophosphorus insecticide chlorpyrifos, appear to increase the expression of α-synuclein, a protein critically involved in Parkinson disease. Therefore, we assessed total blood cell α-synuclein in 90 specimens from 63 agricultural pesticide handlers, mainly Hispanic men from central Washington State, who participated in the state's cholinesterase monitoring program in 2007-2010. Additionally, in age-adjusted linear regression models for repeated measures, we assessed whether α-synuclein levels were associated with butyrylcholinesterase-chlorpyrifos adducts or cholinesterase inhibition measured in peripheral blood, or with self-reported pesticide exposure or paraoxonase (. PON1) genotype. There was no evidence by any of those indicators that exposure to chlorpyrifos was associated with greater blood α-synuclein. We observed somewhat greater α-synuclein with the PON1-108T (lower paraoxonase enzyme) allele, and with ≥10. h of exposure to cholinesterase inhibiting insecticides in the preceding 30 days, but neither of these associations followed a clear dose-response pattern. These results suggest that selected genetic and environmental factors may affect α-synuclein blood levels. However, longitudinal studies with larger numbers of pesticide handlers will be required to confirm and elucidate the possible associations observed in this exploratory cross-sectional study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Aryldialkylphosphatase
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Parkinson disease
  • Pesticides
  • α-Synuclein


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