Can Parkinson’s be inherited?

Parkinson’s is often described as an ‘idiopathic’ condition — which means it has no known cause. But we now know there are a range of genetic factors that can be involved. In this blog, we explore how the genes we inherit can play a role in Parkinson’s.

Claire Bale
Nov 20, 2017 · 5 min read

How our genes make us who we are

The human genome contains 23,000 genes — because we have two copies of each that’s 46,000 in total. These genes act as the blueprint that makes us. We all share the same basic blueprint but there are subtle variations that make each individual’s genome unique. These differences in our genes are what make us all different.


Parkinson’s, genes and inheritance — what we know so far

Parkinson’s is an ‘idiopathic’ condition, which means that it usually isn’t connected to any particular cause. However, for a small minority, Parkinson’s can be caused by inherited changes in genes. For other people, genetic variations can play a part in increasing the risk of the condition.

Very rare changes with strong effects

Around 1 in 1,000 people with Parkinson’s carry a very rare change in a gene that causes the condition directly.

More common changes with weaker effects

As well as single genetic changes that directly cause the condition, we now know that there are also changes that increase risk to a lesser extent.

Professor John Hardy discusses his research into inherited forms of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk

Claire Bale

Written by

Head of Research Communications and Engagement, Parkinson’s UK

Parkinson’s UK

Get the latest research news, discover more about Parkinson’s and read about how others are getting involved. For information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk