Serotonin impairment in CSF of PD patients, without an apparent clinical counterpart

Enrica Olivola, Mariangela Pierantozzi, Paola Imbriani, Claudio Liguori, Mario Stampanoni Bassi, Marco Conti, Vincenza D'Angelo, Nicola Biagio Mercuri, Alessandro Stefani

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In Parkinson's disease (PD), several studies have detected an impaired serotonin (5-HT) pathway, likely affecting both motor and non-motor domains. However, the precise impact of 5-HT impairment is far from established. Here, we have used a HPLC chromatographic method, in a homogenous cohort (n = 35) of non fluctuating, non dyskinetic PD patients, to assess the concentration of 5-HT and its metabolite 5-HIAA in peripheral cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained from lumbar puncture (LP). LP was performed following three days of therapy withdrawal, in order to vanish the effects of prolonged released dopamine agonists (DA), and in absence of any serotonergic agent. The PD patient group showed a significantly reduced CSF level of both 5-HT and 5-HIAA compared to either age-matched control subjects (n = 18), or Alzheimer's disease patients (n = 20). However, no correlation emerged between 5-HT/5-HIAA concentrations and UPDRS-III (r = -0.12), disease duration (r = -0.1), age (r = -0.27) and MMSE (r = 0.11). Intriguingly, low CSF 5-HT levels did not differ for gender or for motor phenotype (in terms of non-tremor dominant subtype and tremor dominant subtype). Further, low CSF 5-HT levels did not correlate with the presence of depression, apathy or sleep disturbance. Our findings support the contention that 5-HT impairment is a cardinal feature of stable PD, probably representing a hallmark of diffuse Lewy bodies deposition in the brainstem. However, clinical relevance remains uncertain. Given these findings, an add-on therapy with serotonergic agents seems questionable in PD patients, or should be individually tailored, unless severe depression is present.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere101763
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 18 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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