The causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown, however studies have shown that exposure to human-made chemicals may be a risk factor for developing the movement disorder. It now appears that natural chemicals from fungi may also be a trigger. According to The Independent, these data suggest that the volatile substances given off by mildew and other fungi growing in damp houses may be a significant risk factor.
The research, as the Belfast Telegraph summarizes, has found that the chemical 1-octen-3-ol, which mold naturally emits, kills flies’ brain cells that transmit dopamine, a compound involved in controlling movement. The mold molecule also reduces dopamine levels in the flies’ brains. In experiments with human cells, the mold chemical also blocked the cells from taking in dopamine.
The results also offer insight into cases of movement problems that doctors have associated with fungi exposure. There could also be a connection to “sick building syndrome.” However, it is important to note that the research has only been conducted on fruit flies and no direct association with people has been proven.
The research has been published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a paper titled “Fungal-derived semiochemical 1-octen-3-ol disrupts dopamine packaging and causes neurodegeneration.”