Biomarkers That May Predict Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s Discovered
New biomarkers identified by a research team in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania could help predict which Parkinson’s disease patients will suffer significant cognitive deficits within the first three years of their diagnosis. The results of the analysis from the international Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) are published this week in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
“The results of this study improve our understanding of the changes in brain function that occur with initial cognitive changes in early Parkinson’s disease,” said Daniel Weintraub, MD, a professor of Psychiatry and lead author. “This could eventually lead to improved clinical care and development of therapies to treat this symptom.”
Dr. Weintraub led the team that analyzed data and samples from 423 newly diagnosed and untreated Parkinson’s disease patients who showed no signs of dementia at the time of their enrollment in PPMI, a landmark observational study launched in 2010 and sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Three years after enrollment, between 15 and 38 percent of these participants had developed cognitive impairment. The authors assessed brain scans, genetic tests and analyses of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and found cognitive decline correlated with several biomarkers: changes in the dopamine system, global brain atrophy, particular genetic mutations, and markers of Alzheimer’s disease.