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Front Neurosci. 2018 Aug 30;12:612. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00612. eCollection 2018.

Parkinson's Disease: Biomarkers, Treatment, and Risk Factors.

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Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, United Kingdom.
Department of Neurology, Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, United States.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused mainly by lack of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in movement, motivation, memory, and other functions; its level is decreased in PD brain as a result of dopaminergic cell death. Dopamine loss in PD brain is a cause of motor deficiency and, possibly, a reason of the cognitive deficit observed in some PD patients. PD is mostly not recognized in its early stage because of a long latency between the first damage to dopaminergic cells and the onset of clinical symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to find reliable molecular biomarkers that can distinguish PD from other conditions, monitor its progression, or give an indication of a positive response to a therapeutic intervention. PD biomarkers can be subdivided into four main types: clinical, imaging, biochemical, and genetic. For a long time protein biomarkers, dopamine metabolites, amino acids, etc. in blood, serum, cerebrospinal liquid (CSF) were considered the most promising. Among the candidate biomarkers that have been tested, various forms of α-synuclein (α-syn), i.e., soluble, aggregated, post-translationally modified, etc. were considered potentially the most efficient. However, the encouraging recent results suggest that microRNA-based analysis may bring considerable progress, especially if it is combined with α-syn data. Another promising analysis is the advanced metabolite profiling of body fluids, called "metabolomics" which may uncover metabolic fingerprints specific for various stages of PD. Conventional pharmacological treatment of PD is based on the replacement of dopamine using dopamine precursors (levodopa, L-DOPA, L-3,4 dihydroxyphenylalanine), dopamine agonists (amantadine, apomorphine) and MAO-B inhibitors (selegiline, rasagiline), which can be used alone or in combination with each other. Potential risk factors include environmental toxins, drugs, pesticides, brain microtrauma, focal cerebrovascular damage, and genomic defects. This review covers molecules that might act as the biomarkers of PD. Then, PD risk factors (including genetics and non-genetic factors) and PD treatment options are discussed.


Parkinson’s disease; biomarkers; microRNAs; orexin; α-synuclein

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