Background: Serum metabolite profiling can be used to identify pathways involved in the pathogenesis of and potential biomarkers for a given disease. Both restless legs syndrome (RLS) and Parkinson`s disease (PD) represent movement disorders for which currently no blood-based biomarkers are available and whose pathogenesis has not been uncovered conclusively. We performed unbiased serum metabolite profiling in search of signature metabolic changes for both diseases.
Methods: 456 metabolites were quantified in serum samples of 1272 general population controls belonging to the KORA cohort, 82 PD cases and 95 RLS cases by liquid-phase chromatography and gas chromatography separation coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Genetically determined metabotypes were calculated using genome-wide genotyping data for the 1272 general population controls.
Results: After stringent quality control, we identified decreased levels of long-chain (polyunsaturated) fatty acids of individuals with PD compared to both RLS (PD vs. RLS: p = 0.0001 to 5.80x10-9) and general population controls (PD vs. KORA: p = 6.09x10-5 to 3.45x10-32). In RLS, inositol metabolites were increased specifically (RLS vs. KORA: p = 1.35x10-6 to 3.96x10-7). The impact of dopaminergic drugs was reflected in changes in the phenylalanine/tyrosine/dopamine metabolism observed in both individuals with RLS and PD.
Conclusions: A first discovery approach using serum metabolite profiling in two dopamine-related movement disorders compared to a large general population sample identified significant alterations in the polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism in PD and implicated the inositol metabolism in RLS. These results provide a starting point for further studies investigating new perspectives on factors involved in the pathogenesis of the two diseases as well as possible points of therapeutic intervention.