Biomarkers for Parkinson's [corrected] disease: tools to assess Parkinson's disease onset and progression

Ann Neurol. 2008 Dec;64 Suppl 2:S111-21. doi: 10.1002/ana.21602.


Reliable and well-validated biomarkers for PD to identify individuals "at risk" before motor symptoms, accurately diagnose individuals at the threshold of clinical PD, and monitor PD progression throughout its course would dramatically accelerate research into both PD cause and therapeutics. Biomarkers offer the potential to provide a window onto disease mechanism, potentially generating therapeutic targets for disease. In particular, biomarkers enable investigation of the premotor period of PD before typical symptoms are manifest, but while degeneration has already begun. Given the multiple genetic causes for PD already identified, the marked variability in the loss of dopaminergic markers measured by imaging at motor symptom onset and the clear heterogeneity of clinical symptoms in PD onset and clinical progression, it is likely many biomarkers with a focus ranging from clinical symptoms to PD pathobiology to molecular genetic mechanisms will be necessary to fully map PD risk and progression. Biomarkers are also critical in new drug development for PD, both in early validation studies to assess drug dosing and to determine drug penetrance into the brain, and in later efficacy studies to complement PD clinical outcomes. During the past two decades, much progress has been made in identifying and assessing PD biomarkers, but as yet, no fully validated biomarker for PD is currently available. Nonetheless, there is increasing evidence that molecular genetics, focused -omic (proteomic, metabolomic, and transcriptomic) assessment of blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and advanced in vivo brain imaging will provide critical clues to assist in the diagnosis and medical management of PD patients.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease* / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease* / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers