Neurodegenerative diseases are a heterogeneous group of pathologies which includes complex multifactorial diseases, monogenic disorders and disorders for which inherited, sporadic and transmissible forms are known. Factors associated with predisposition and vulnerability to neurodegenerative disorders may be described usefully within the context of gene–environment interplay. There are many identified genetic determinants for neurodegeneration, and it is possible to duplicate many elements of recognized human neurodegenerative disorders in animal models of the disease. However, there are similarly several identifiable environmental influences on outcomes of the genetic defects; and the course of a progressive neurodegenerative disorder can be greatly modified by environmental elements. In this review we highlight some of the major neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington's disease, and prion diseases.) and discuss possible links of gene–environment interplay including, where implicated, mitochondrial genes.

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