An attempt to dissect a peripheral marker based on cell pathology in Parkinson's disease

Francesca Biagioni, Rosangela Ferese, Filippo Sean Giorgi, Nicola Modugno, Enrica Olivola, Paola Lenzi, Stefano Gambardella, Diego Centonze, Stefano Ruggieri, Francesco Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral markers in Parkinson's disease (PD) represent a hot issue to provide early diagnosis and assess disease progression. The gold standard marker of PD should feature the same reliability as the pathogenic alteration, which produces the disease itself. PD is foremost a movement disorder produced by a loss of nigrostriatal dopamine innervation, in which striatal dopamine terminals are always markedly reduced in PD patients to an extent, which never overlaps with controls. Similarly, a reliable marker of PD should possess such a non-overlapping feature when compared with controls. In the present study, we provide a novel pathological hallmark, the autophagosome, which in each PD patient was always suppressed compared with each control subject. Autophagosomes were counted as microtubule-associated proteins 1A/1B light chain 3B (LC3)-positive vacuoles at ultrastructural morphometry within peripheral (blood) blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). This also provides the gold standard to assess the autophagy status. Since autophagy may play a role in the pathogenesis of PD, autophagosomes may be a disease marker, while participating in the biology of the disease. Stoichiometric measurement of α-synuclein despite significantly increased in PD patients, overlapped between PD and control patients. Although the study need to be validated in large populations, the number of autophagy vacuoles is neither related with therapy (the amount was similarly suppressed in a few de novo patients), nor the age in PD or controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1599-1610
Number of pages12
JournalJ. Neural Transm.
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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