Paul KC, Krolewski RC, Lucumi Moreno E, Blank J, Holton KM, Ahfeldt T, Furlong M, Yu Y, Cockburn M, Thompson LK, Kreymerman A, Ricci-Blair EM, Li YJ, Patel HB, Lee RT, Bronstein J, Rubin LL, Khurana V, Ritz B. 2023. A pesticide and iPSC dopaminergic neuron screen identifies and classifies Parkinson-relevant pesticides. Nature communications. 14(1):2803. Pubmed: 37193692 DOI:10.1038/s41467-023-38215-z


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease with etiology rooted in genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. Here we combine quantitative epidemiologic study of pesticide exposures and PD with toxicity screening in dopaminergic neurons derived from PD patient induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to identify Parkinson's-relevant pesticides. Agricultural records enable investigation of 288 specific pesticides and PD risk in a comprehensive, pesticide-wide association study. We associate long-term exposure to 53 pesticides with PD and identify co-exposure profiles. We then employ a live-cell imaging screening paradigm exposing dopaminergic neurons to 39 PD-associated pesticides. We find that 10 pesticides are directly toxic to these neurons. Further, we analyze pesticides typically used in combinations in cotton farming, demonstrating that co-exposures result in greater toxicity than any single pesticide. We find trifluralin is a driver of toxicity to dopaminergic neurons and leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. Our paradigm may prove useful to mechanistically dissect pesticide exposures implicated in PD risk and guide agricultural policy.
© 2023. The Author(s).

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Photo of Rich Lee

Rich Lee seeks to understand heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, and translate that understanding into therapies. Lee is an active clinician, regularly treating patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Photo of Lee Rubin

Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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