Media portrayal:
Scientific interpretation:

Hepatitis B & C may be linked to increased risk of Parkinson’s

Original article: Viral hepatitis and Parkinson disease, Neurology: Mar 29, 2017.

The takeaway

People with hepatitis B or C have a much higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life, according to data gleaned from a large-scale study of a health database in the United Kingdom.

Why is it important?

The study provides additional insight into risk factors for Parkinson’s and its underlying basis, which is important for the investigation of potential therapeutic targets.

Impact opinion

“This study is another in a growing body of evidence that links the aberrations in the GI tract with the onset of Parkinson’s disease.” Dr. Patrik Brundin



  • Novelty 80% 80%
  • Proximity 80% 80%
  • Deliverability 40% 40%


Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. It is most often caused by one of five hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D or E) that differ in key ways. Both hepatitis B and C viruses can be transmitted through infected blood. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B but no vaccine for hepatitis C. (Source: World Health Organization)

The details

The investigators used the English National Hospital Episode Statistics (1999–2011) to investigate potential links between hepatitis B, hepatitis C, autoimmune hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis and HIV, and the subsequent development of Parkinson’s. Of these, only hepatitis B and C showed an increased association with Parkinson’s—people with hepatitis B had a 76 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s and people with hepatitis C had a 51 percent higher risk.

Further study is needed to discern whether the hepatitis virus itself contributes to Parkinson’s disease, if people who are susceptible to hepatitis also have a similar susceptibility to Parkinson’s, or if hepatitis treatment in some way affects risk.

It is important to note that the study does not establish a cause and effect relationship between the conditions.

The study authors also caution that further work is needed to confirm the results and that the study was unable to account for other risk factors such as lifestyle.

Related work

This study is not alone in identifying hepatitis C as a potential risk factor for Parkinson’s. In 2016 a similar paper was also published in Neurology, here researchers used the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database and similarly found an association between hepatitis C and increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.
Original article: Pakpoor J, Noyce A, Goldacre R, Selkihova M, Mullin S, Schrag A, Lees A, Goldacre M. Mar 29, 2017. Viral hepatitis and Parkinson disease. Neurology.

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