Neurological Disease

Skin may hold the key for Parkinson's

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Science  13 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6189, pp. 1239
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6189.1239-b

In Parkinson's disease, a degenerative movement disorder of the central nervous system, a protein called phosphorylated alpha-synuclein builds up in neurons, damaging the brain. The disease is hard to diagnose early or monitor over time because the protein builds up so slowly and so deep inside the brain. Doppler et al. now report that patient skin samples hold key insights. The authors detected phosphorylated alpha-synuclein in autonomic and sensory nerves found in the skin samples in 16 out of 31 people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in 0 out of 35 healthy volunteers. Because skin is far more accessible than brain tissue, these observations could lead to diagnostic tests to identify and follow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

Acta Neuropathol. 10.1007/s00401-014-1284-0 (2014).

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