No Link Found Between Parkinson’s and FGF20 Gene Variants in Study

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Although some previous research has indicated that certain variations in the FGF20 gene increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, a new Chinese study indicates that these mutations don’t increase Parkinson’s risk.

The study, “Quantitative assessment of the effect of FGF20 rs1721100 and rs12720208 variant on the risk of sporadic Parkinson’s disease: a meta-analysis,” was published in Neurological Sciences.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. One factor that contributes to the development of Parkinson’s is genetics — which particular variations a person has in their genes. Variants in certain genes, like LRRK2 and SNCA, have well-established links with Parkinson’s.

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The FGF20 gene provides instructions for making a signaling protein called fibroblast growth factor 20. This protein helps to promote the survival of the dopamine-producing neurons that are damaged in Parkinson’s.

Some previous studies have suggested that two variants in the FGF20 gene, called rs1721100 and rs12720208, are tied to an increased risk of Parkinson’s; however, other studies have found contradictory results.

To gain clarity, a group of researchers at Jilin University in China searched through scientific databases and identified 10 studies that investigated the relationship between these FGF20 variants and Parkinson’s. The studies were published between 2005 and 2018; half investigated Asian populations, and the other half investigated Caucasians.

From these studies, the team extracted data on 5,262 people with Parkinson’s and 6,075 without (controls). They then conducted statistical analyses to test whether the two FGF20 variants were more common among the Parkinson’s patients, which would suggest that these variants increase Parkinson’s risk.

Results showed that the variants were present at similar rates among patients and controls.

“In contrast to the results of previous studies, our findings demonstrated that the FGF20 rs12720208 and rs1721100 polymorphisms [genetic variations] were not related to the risk of sporadic PD [Parkinson’s disease] in Asians or Caucasians,” the scientists concluded. Sporadic Parkinson’s refers to the condition that develops in people who don’t have a known family history of the disease.

While the results suggest that these specific FGF20 variants don’t increase Parkinson’s risk, the researchers stressed that further study is needed to determine whether other variants in this gene may influence the development of Parkinson’s.