The Interrelated Multifactorial Actions of Cortisol and Klotho: Potential Implications in the Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease

Nijee S. Luthra*, Angela Clow, Daniel M. Corcos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is complex, multilayered, and not fully understood, resulting in a lack of effective disease-modifying treatments for this prevalent neurodegenerative condition. Symptoms of PD are heterogenous, including motor impairment as well as non-motor symptoms such as depression, cognitive impairment, and circadian disruption. Aging and stress are important risk factors for PD, leading us to explore pathways that may either accelerate or protect against cellular aging and the detrimental effects of stress. Cortisol is a much-studied hormone that can disrupt mitochondrial function and increase oxidative stress and neuroinflammation, which are recognized as key underlying disease mechanisms in PD. The more recently discovered klotho protein, considered a general aging-suppressor, has a similarly wide range of actions but in the opposite direction to cortisol: promoting mitochondrial function while reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Both hormones also converge on pathways of vitamin D metabolism and insulin resistance, also implicated to play a role in PD. Interestingly, aging, stress and PD associate with an increase in cortisol and decrease in klotho, while physical exercise and certain genetic variations lead to a decrease in cortisol response and increased klotho. Here, we review the interrelated opposite actions of cortisol and klotho in the pathogenesis of PD. Together they impact powerful and divergent mechanisms that may go on to influence PD-related symptoms. Better understanding of these hormones in PD would facilitate the design of effective interventions that can simultaneously impact the multiple systems involved in the pathogenesis of PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1695
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Parkinson’s disease
  • aging
  • cortisol
  • klotho
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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