Gene-environment interactions in the Italy-Argentina 'Colombo 2000' project
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
The phenomenon of massive migration is a true "natural experiment" that offers opportunities for the study of gene-environment interactions in disease pathogenesis. Comparison of disease incidence, prevalence and mortality in the original population and in the migrant group, exposed to vastly different environmental influences, may reveal the presence of either risk factors or protective influences in one of the groups. As part of the "Colombo 2000" project to study the large Italian migration to Argentina, differences in mortality for neurological diseases have been found. Higher mortality rates for brain tumors, psychiatric diseases, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and motor neuron diseases were found in Italy while Argentina had mortality rates five times higher than Italy for alcohol-related deaths and two times higher for hemorrhagic strokes. Further study of these areas of difference is suggested using case-control, genetic, and cross-sectional studies in Italy and Argentina.