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Hepatitis may increase risk of Parkinson's disease

Study finds that people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Infection with either the hepatitis B or C virus may be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study* published in Neurology.

UK researchers identified hospital records of people first diagnosed with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, autoimmune hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis and HIV between 1999 and 2011. There were nearly 22,000 people with hepatitis B, 48,000 with hepatitis C, 6,000 with autoimmune hepatitis, 4,000 with chronic active hepatitis and nearly 20,000 with HIV. These records were compared against those of more than 6 million people with minor conditions, such as cataract surgery, bunions and knee replacement surgery, to see who later developed Parkinson's disease.

The results showed that people with hepatitis B were 76% more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those in the comparison group, and people with hepatitis C were 51% more likely to develop Parkinson's disease. A total of 44 people with hepatitis B developed Parkinson's disease, compared to 25 cases that would be expected in the general population. For people with hepatitis C, 73 people developed Parkinson's disease, where about 49 cases would have been expected in the general population.

People with autoimmune hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis and HIV did not have an increased rate of Parkinson's disease.

Researcher Julia Pakpoor, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. "It's possible that the hepatitis virus itself or perhaps the treatment for the infection could play a role in triggering Parkinson's disease or it's possible that people who are susceptible to hepatitis infections are also more susceptible to Parkinson's disease. We hope that identifying this relationship may help us to better understand how Parkinson's disease develops."


* Pakpoor J, Noyce A, Goldacre R, et al. Viral hepatitis and Parkinson disease: A national record-linkage study. Neurology, published online before print 29 March 2017. DOI: 10.​1212/​WNL.​0000000000003848  

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