A New Potential Biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease has Been Uncovered

Researchers from the University of Barcelona have recently found a new biomarker which may be able to diagnose Parkinson’s disease sooner. This biomarker is a protein fragment called GPR37. It is found in the cerebrospinal fluid. Specifically, the researchers were able to differentiate that Parkinson’s disease patients had this biomarker whereas those with Alzheimer’s did not. Being able to differentiate between these two neurodegenerative conditions is critical for diagnosis.

This study was published in Translational Neurodegeneration

The Study

This study is so influential because to date, no study has found a biomarker for Parkinson’s diagnosis which is clinically meaningful.

GPR37 is a part of a G protein-coupled receptor. It is found in many different brain regions. Researchers have never fully understood the function of these cells.

This team found that in Parkinson’s disease patients, GPR37 (in an insoluble form) was found in high levels within the brain.

The study had a total of 41 participants. Patients had an average age of 63 and an average disease duration of 5.8 years. Additionally, there were 45 volunteers in the control group who matched these participants in regard to age and sex. All individuals in the control group had some sort of benign neurological condition such as tension headaches.

All of the participants diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease had neurological evaluations and assessments of their motor symptoms and non-motor related symptoms. Samples of cerebrospinal fluid were taken from all participants. These samples were used to assess GPR37 (mRNA and protein), and ecto-GPR37.

Researchers found that GPR37 density, ecto-GPR37 peptides, and mRNA expression were much higher in those with sporadic Parkinson’s disease than those in the control group. They did not find these same expressions in those with  Alzheimer’s disease.

Looking Forward

Researchers note that a larger study is needed before this biomarker can be used in a clinical setting. They want to conduct a longitudinal study.

Thankfully, the team has been awarded around $150,000 to move ahead with this research and develop a better understanding of this biomarker’s sensitivity, specificity, and limits of use.

You can read more about this study and its findings here.

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