Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an incapacitating neurodegenerative disorder affecting the population over the age of 65 years. Clinically, most patients present with the symptoms of bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity, and postural instability. A number of patients also suffer from autonomic, cognitive, and psychiatric disturbances. The symptoms of PD result from the selective loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra (SNc) pars compacta. However, the exact molecular mechanism that causes this cell death still remains elusive. The cross talk between various molecular signals facilitates the cell to undergo developmental and differentiation programs with such tantalizing accuracy. In recent years, epigenetic mechanisms have advanced as a regulatory driver of processes such as signal transduction, cell cycle control, and stress response. These include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and small RNA-mediated mechanisms. Increasing evidence suggests that epigenetic mechanisms play a major role in the pathogenesis of PD. Researchers are now working to comprehend the therapeutic promises of epigenetic molecules to offset age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In this chapter, we focus on some examples of the cross talk between epigenetic processes and various signal transduction pathways that underlie the pathogenesis of PD.
Part of the book: Challenges in Parkinson's Disease