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Physical activity and Parkinson’s disease: a two-sample Mendelian randomisation study
  1. Sebastian Baumeister1,2,
  2. Christa Meisinger1,2,
  3. Michael Leitzmann3,
  4. Alexander Teumer4,
  5. Martin Bahls5,
  6. André Karch6,
  7. Hansjörg Baurecht3
  1. 1 Lehrstuhl für Epidemiologie der LMU München am UNIKA-T Augsburg, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munchen, Germany
  2. 2 Independent Research Group Clinical Epidemiology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Munich, Germany
  3. 3 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany
  4. 4 Institute for Community Medicine, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
  5. 5 Department of Internal Medicine B, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany
  6. 6 Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sebastian Baumeister, Chair of Epidemiology, LMU München, UNIKA-T Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munchen 80539, Germany; s.baumeister{at}

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative condition, and the number of people living with PD is projected to double by 2030. Physical activity is known to be protective for a wide range of chronic conditions (such as cardiovascular disease and cancer), and the evidence for protection against PD has strengthened in the past two decades. Meta-analysis of cohort studies has suggested that physical activity lowers the risk of PD.1 However, the causality of this association has not been established because conventional observational studies are susceptible to the effects of confounding and reverse causation. Of particular concern is the potential for reverse causation. Early prodromal disease features may make individuals become less physically active and induce a spurious inverse association. Nonmotor symptoms (hyposmia, constipation, sleep disorders) may precede diagnosis by up to two decades and could lower the propensity to engage in physical activity. We conducted a Mendelian randomisation (MR) study to examine the effect of accelerometer-measured physical activity on the risk of PD. MR exploits genetic variants as instrumental variables that affect the disease outcome through the exposure and allows to determine whether the exposure is a cause of the disease.2 The MR method diminishes confounding by environmental factors because alleles are randomly allocated when passed from parents to offspring at conception and avoids reverse causation because disease cannot affect genotype.

We leveraged data from 91 084 UK Biobank participants3 for whom genome-wide …

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  • Contributors SB, CM, ML, AK and HB helped in study conception and design. SB, AT and HB helped in the development of methodology. Acquisition of data (provided animals, acquired and managed patients, provided facilities, etc) was obtained by SB. Analysis and interpretation of data (eg, statistical analysis, biostatistics, computational analysis) was done by SB, AT and HB. Writing, review and/or revision of the manuscript was done by SB, CM, ML, MB, AK and HB. Administrative, technical or material support (ie, reporting or organising data, constructing databases) was given by SB, CM and ML. Study supervision was done by AK and HB.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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