Researchers led by Nagoya University in Japan have established that hematocrit, serum cholesterol levels, and blood pressure tend to change in Parkinson’s disease patients long before early motor symptoms appear. This is an important finding that will provide for early diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease can be detected early before motor symptoms appear
Currently, Parkinson’s disease is among the most common diseases that affect the nervous system behind Alzheimer’s disease. The disease results due to a deficiency of the dopamine neurotransmitter. Interestingly, almost half of the dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease patients are lost when they start experiencing motor symptoms such as slowness of movement, stiffness, and tremors. Also, additional studies have demonstrated that non-motor symptoms such as sleep behavior disorder, constipation, depression, sense of smell impairment, and rapid eye movements appear in Parkinson’s disease patients around 10-20 years earlier before motor symptoms emerge.
Therefore the results imply that the disease starts developing decades before the emergence of motor symptoms. Nagoya University’s Graduate School of Medicine Professor Masahisa Katsuno indicated that if the biological changes are detected earlier before the motor symptoms emerge it can be easy to treat the disease in the early stages. Based on this perspective, the research team led by Katsuno and Katsunori Yokoi, the study’s lead author concentrated on general health check-up results that are conducted in individuals in Japan annually.
The study considered data of Parkinson’s disease patients
Researchers analyzed several years of data from checkups of 23 female and 22 male Parkinson’s disease patients, whose check-up results before motor symptoms emerged, where available. The study also considered data from 60 female and 60 male healthy individuals that underwent check-ups in the past four years for control purposes.
Katsuno said that they found that hematocrit, serum cholesterol levels, and blood pressure were potential Parkinson’s disease biomarkers before the onset of motor symptoms. He said that these results show that general health check-ups can be vital in detecting early Parkinson’s disease symptoms. The team is also conducting other studies to identify individuals at high risk for Parkinson’s disease.