Spinal fluid may aid in tracking Parkinson’s progression

Original article: Longitudinal measurements of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorder, Feb 16, 2016

The takeaway

Spinal fluid may offer a way to measure progression in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Why is it important?

Currently, there is no simple, definitive way to diagnose Parkinson’s disease or to objectively measure its progression. Finding an appropriate biomarker could be a game changer.


“A biomarker that either allows the initial diagnosis of Parkinson’s or that allows us to objectively follow the disease and track disease progression would be extremely valuable to clinical research. This study suggests that a combination of molecules can be used to track deterioration of symptoms.” Dr. Patrik Brundin.



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Biomarkers are anything that can be objectively measured to indicate the presence of a certain condition, such as insulin levels in diabetes or temperature for a fever.  In Parkinson’s, the level of alpha-synuclein and other proteins in spinal fluid offers a promising option for diagnosing and tracking the disease.

The details

The level of proteins associated with neurodegeneration increase in spinal fluid over time. Scientists also were able to link an uptick in certain proteins to clinical symptoms, for example:

  • An increase in phosphorylated tau over two years was associated with faster progression of motor symptoms and fast cognitive decline. Tau is a protein that plays a role in transport and cell growth, and that is associated with Alzheimer’s.
  • An increase in YKL-40 over two years also was linked to faster cognitive decline. YKL-40 is associated with inflammation.

The study included 63 people with Parkinson’s and 21 controls without neurological conditions from the Swedish BioFINDER study, an initiative aimed at better understanding Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Related work and trials

Another trial focused on biomarkers has been set up by Sanguine Biosciences. This trial is recruiting people with all different types of health conditions, as well as healthy controls, to collect blood and other tissue in order to provide biomedical researchers with samples that could help to find new treatments and diagnostics tools.

To find out about relevant trials recruiting near you, take a look at Fox Trial Finder.

Original article: Hall S, Surova Y, Öhrfelt A, the Swedish BioFINDER Study, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, Hansson O. Feb 16, 2016. Longitudinal measurements of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Dis 31(6):898–905.


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