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Open Access Review

Role of early life exposure and environment on neurodegeneration: implications on brain disorders

Shweta Modgil12, Debomoy K Lahiri3, Vijay L Sharma2 and Akshay Anand1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Neuroscience Research Lab, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, #3036, Research Block-B, 160012 Chandigarh, India

2 Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India

3 Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University Medical Center Indianapolis, Indianapolis, USA

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Translational Neurodegeneration 2014, 3:9  doi:10.1186/2047-9158-3-9

Published: 29 April 2014

Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and retinal degeneration have been studied extensively and varying molecular mechanisms have been proposed for onset of such diseases. Although genetic analysis of these diseases has also been described, yet the mechanisms governing the extent of vulnerability to such diseases remains unresolved. Recent studies have, therefore, focused on the role of environmental exposure in progression of such diseases especially in the context of prenatal and postnatal life, explaining how molecular mechanisms mediate epigenetic changes leading to degenerative diseases. This review summarizes both the animal and human studies describing various environmental stimuli to which an individual or an animal is exposed during in-utero and postnatal period and mechanisms that promote neurodegeneration. The SNPs mediating gene environment interaction are also described. Further, preventive and therapeutic strategies are suggested for effective intervention.

Keywords:
Aging; Metals; Epigenetics; LEARn; Methylation; Pesticides