Perelman School of Medicine researchers at the University of Pennsylvania report the first biomarker results from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), showing that a comprehensive test of protein biomarkers in spinal fluid have prognostic and diagnostic value in early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Compared to healthy adults, the study found that people with early Parkinson’s had lower levels of amyloid beta, tau and alpha synuclein in their spinal fluid. In addition, those with lower concentrations of tau and alpha synuclein had greater motor dysfunction. And early Parkinson’s patients with low levels of amyloid beta and tau were more likely to be classified as having the postural instability-gait disturbance- dominant (PIGD) motor type of disease, where falling, freezing, and walking difficulty are common. The study is reported in the 26th August edition of JAMA Neurology.
Senior author Leslie M. Shaw, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn Medicine is quoted in Science Daily as saying “Biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease such as these could help us diagnose patients earlier, and we’ve now shown that the simultaneous measurement of a variety of neurodegenerative disease proteins is valuable”.