Introduction: Mutations in the GBA gene, encoding for the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase, are associated with Gaucher disease. Alterations in plasma sphingolipids have been reported in Gaucher, and similarly in brain extracts in Lewy body disease. As GBA mutations are prevalent risk factors for Parkinson's disease and overlap of molecular pathways are presumable, here we assessed the lipid profiles in Parkinson's patients with and without GBA mutations.
Methods: We sequenced all GBA exons in 415 Parkinson's patients, previously genotyped for LRRK2. 64 patients (29 GBA positive vs. 35 non-GBA-carriers including 18 LRRK2 positive and 17 non-mutated) were analyzed for chitotriosidase activity and for the concentration of 40 lipid classes using HPLC-MS.
Results: 29/415 patients (6.9%) carried 8 different GBA mutations associated with Gaucher or Parkinson's, including one novel mutation. Chitotriosidase activity was similar across the genetic groups, while the levels of key lipids were altered in GBA mutation carriers: Monohexosylceramide, Ceramide and Sphingomyelin were elevated; while Phosphatidic acid (PA), Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), Plasmalogen phosphatidylethanolamine (PEp) and Acyl Phosphatidylglycerol (AcylPG) were decreased.
Conclusion: The results suggest an important role for these lipids in GBA mediated Parkinson's disease and assist in the identification of common pathways between Gaucher and Parkinson's. Ultimately, our findings may lead to the identification of novel biomarkers for individuals at increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Keywords: Biomarkers; GBA; Gaucher disease; LRRK2; Parkinson's disease; sphingolipids.
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