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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and chronic disorder that causes motor system dysfunction due to a lack of dopamine in the central nervous system. Although this disorder has been researched extensively, the etiology of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. Paraquat, a commonly used pesticide, is a known neurotoxin and is used extensively worldwide. In order to determine if people who live in agricultural regions that use paraquat are more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease I examined a possible link between paraquat, the fibrillation of the protein alpha-synuclein and neurodegeneration. To conduct this review, I analyzed epidemiological studies on the correlation between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, research on the link between pesticides and the protein alpha-synuclein and research on the link between alpha-synuclein and Parkinson’s disease. From this review, I found that areas that are exposed to high levels of paraquat experience elevated rates of Parkinson’s disease in their populations, that paraquat is positively correlated with the aggregation of alpha-synuclein, and that an increase in alpha-synuclein causes neurodegeneration due to an imposed neurotoxicity or through an oxidative stress pathway. This review clearly points to a strong correlation between paraquat exposure and the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. This review leads to the recommendation of future research that solely tests the effect of paraquat on alpha-synuclein fibrillation and neurodegeneration in mice. This work would clarify the definitive link between paraquat and the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease thus informing the practices of those who use pesticides.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Biology and Neuroscience

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Mary Boyes


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

Examining a Link between Paraquat, Alpha-Synuclein Fibrillation and Neurodegeneration: A Review