Waragai M, Sekiyama K, Fujita M, Tokuda T, Hashimoto M
Introduction: Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease leading to movement disorders, and is characterized neuropathologically by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons, intracellular α-synuclein deposition and the formation of Lewy bodies. The difficulty of making a definitive diagnosis of PD itself, as opposed to other neurodegenerative diseases associated with parkinsonism, is a central issue in clinical PD research. However, recent advances in diagnostic methods, encompassing imaging techniques, genetic testing and measurement of biological markers may permit earlier diagnosis, and thus potentially improved management of PD.
Areas covered: In addition to clinical symptoms and imaging techniques, a number of genetic and biological markers obtained from body fluids such as cerebrospinal fluids may hold promise for the early detection of PD. It is often difficult to make an accurate diagnosis and to distinguish PD from other diseases with features of parkinsonism, particularly during the early stages of the disease. In this regard, biomarkers which are specific for PD, in combination with observation of clinical symptoms, may facilitate the early diagnosis and improved management of PD.
Expert opinion: Good biomarkers for PD could be helpful for early diagnosis, management and tracking of disease progression. Furthermore, combined analysis using several kinds of biomarkers may allow the detection of preclinical PD, which in turn may facilitate a prevention of disease onset with the use of disease-modifying drugs.