Sporadic or idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder of unknown origin that ranks only second behind Alzheimer's disease (AD) in prevalence and its consequent social and economic burden. PD neuropathology is characterized by a selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta; however, more widespread involvement of other CNS structures and peripheral tissues now is widely documented. The onset of molecular and cellular neuropathology of PD likely occurs decades before the onset of the motor symptoms characteristic of PD. The hallmark symptoms of PD, resting tremors, rigidity and postural disabilities, are related to dopamine (DA) deficiency. Current therapies treat these symptoms by replacing or boosting existing DA. All current interventions have limited therapeutic benefit for disease progression because damage likely has progressed over an estimated period of ~5 to 15years to a loss of 60%-80% of the nigral DA neurons, before symptoms emerge. There is no accepted definitive biomarker of PD. An urgent need exists to develop early diagnostic biomarkers for two reasons: (1) to intervene at the onset of disease and (2) to monitor the progress of therapeutic interventions that may slow or stop the course of the disease. In the context of disease development, one of the promises of personalized medicine is the ability to predict, on an individual basis, factors contributing to the susceptibility for the development of a given disease. Recent advances in our understanding of genetic factors underlying or contributing to PD offer the potential for monitoring susceptibility biomarkers that can be used to identify at-risk individuals and possibly prevent the onset of disease through treatment. Finally, the exposome concept is new in the biomarker discovery arena and it is suggested as a way to move forward in identifying biomarkers of neurological diseases. It is a two-stage scheme involving a first stage of exposome-wide association studies (EWAS) to profile omic features in serum to discover molecular biomarkers. The second stage involves application of this knowledge base in follow-up studies. This strategy is unique in that it promotes the use of data-driven (omic) strategies in interrogating diseased and healthy populations and encourages a movement away from using only reductionist strategies to discover biomarkers of exposure and disease. In this short review we will examine 1) advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying PD that have led to candidate biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment efficacy and 2) new technologies on the horizon that will lead to novel approaches in biomarker development.
Keywords: Fluid biomarkers; Imaging; Transcranial sonography; α-Synuclein.
Published by Elsevier Inc.