Parkinson’s disease is caused by the progressive degeneration of a structure in the brain called the substantia nigra. This structure is responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that controls movement. Lack or low levels of dopamine trigger symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The underlying cause of this degeneration is not yet fully understood.
Continuing studies are investigating the potential links between Parkinson’s disease and risk factors including ageing, environmental toxins and free radicals. Genetic causes are also being examined, however, only a small percentage of Parkinson’s disease patients have a family history of the disease.