Longitudinal analyses of cerebrospinal fluid α-Synuclein in prodromal and early Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 2019 Sep;34(9):1354-1364. doi: 10.1002/mds.27806. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Background: Aggregation of α-synuclein is central to the pathophysiology of PD. Biomarkers related to α-synuclein may be informative for PD diagnosis/progression.

Objectives: To analyze α-synuclein in CSF in drug-naïve PD, healthy controls, and prodromal PD in the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative.

Methods: Over up to 36-month follow-up, CSF total α-synuclein and its association with MDS-UPDRS motor scores, cognitive assessments, and dopamine transporter imaging were assessed.

Results: The inception cohort included PD (n = 376; age [mean {standard deviation} years]: 61.7 [9.62]), healthy controls (n = 173; age, 60.9 [11.3]), hyposmics (n = 16; age, 68.3 [6.15]), and idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (n = 32; age, 69.3 [4.83]). Baseline CSF α-synuclein was lower in manifest and prodromal PD versus healthy controls. Longitudinal α-synuclein decreased significantly in PD at 24 and 36 months, did not change in prodromal PD over 12 months, and trended toward an increase in healthy controls. The decrease in PD was not shown when CSF samples with high hemoglobin concentration were removed from the analysis. CSF α-synuclein changes did not correlate with longitudinal MDS-UPDRS motor scores or dopamine transporter scan.

Conclusions: CSF α-synuclein decreases early in the disease, preceding motor PD. CSF α-synuclein does not correlate with progression and therefore does not reflect ongoing dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Decreased CSF α-synuclein may be an indirect index of changes in the balance between α-synuclein secretion, solubility, or aggregation in the brain, reflecting its overall turnover. Additional biomarkers more directly related to α-synuclein pathophysiology and disease progression and other markers to be identified by, for example, proteomics and metabolomics are needed. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease/parkinsonism; cohort studies; outcome research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Negative Results
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Parkinson Disease / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Prodromal Symptoms*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / etiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • alpha-Synuclein / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Biomarkers
  • SNCA protein, human
  • alpha-Synuclein