Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder affecting approximately 1% of the population over age 50. PD is widely accepted as a multifactorial disease with both genetic and environmental contributions. Despite extensive research conducted in the area the precise etiological factors responsible remain elusive. In about 95% Parkinsonism is considered to have a sporadic component. There are currently no established curative, preventative, or disease-modifying interventions, stemming from a poor understanding of the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis. Here lies the importance of animal models. Pharmacological insults cause Parkinsonian like phenotypes in Drosophila, thereby modelling sporadic PD. The pesticides paraquat and rotenone induced oxidative damage causing cluster specific DA neuron loss together with motor deficits. Studies in fly PD model have deciphered that signaling pathways such as phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K/Akt and target of rapamycin (TOR), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) have been defective. Further, these studies have demonstrated that fruit fly can be a potential model to screen chemical compounds for their neuroprotective efficacy.
Part of the book: Challenges in Parkinson's Disease