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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 11;8(6):e65352. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065352. Print 2013.

Blood dendritic cell frequency declines in idiopathic Parkinson's disease and is associated with motor symptom severity.

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Clinical and Behavioral Neurology, IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy.


The role of inflammation in Parkinson's Disease (PD) is well appreciated, but its underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Our objective was to determine whether dendritic cells (DC), a unique type of migratory immune cells that regulate immunological response and inflammation have an impact on PD. In a case-control study including 80 PD patients and 80 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects, the two main blood subsets of plasmacytoid and myeloid DC were defined by flow cytometry analysis. Clinical evaluation of subjects consisting of cognition and depression assessment was performed using the Mini Mental State Examination and the Beck Depression Inventory. The severity of motor symptoms was measured using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale-Part III. Comparison between patient and control DC measures and their relationships with clinical assessments were evaluated.The following main results were obtained: 1) the level of circulating DC (mainly the myeloid subset) was significantly reduced in PD patients in comparison with healthy controls; 2) after controlling for depressive and cognitive characteristics, the frequency of myeloid DC was confirmed as one of the independent determinants of PD; 3) the number of both myeloid and plasmacytoid DC was negatively associated with motor symptom severity. Overall, the decline of blood DC, perhaps due to the recruitment of immune cells to the site of disease-specific lesions, can be considered a clue of the immune alteration that characterizes PD, suggesting innovative exploitations of DC monitoring as a clinically significant tool for PD treatment. Indeed, this study suggests that reduced peripheral blood DC are a pathologically-relevant factor of PD and also displays the urgency to better understand DC role in PD for unraveling the immune system contribution to disease progression and thus favoring the development of innovative therapies ideally based on immunomodulation.

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