Background and objectives: Variations in the glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA) are common risk factors for Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia in PD (PDD) and cause a reduction in the activity of the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase). It is anticipated that GCase dysfunction might contribute to a more malignant disease course and predict cognitive impairment in PD, although evidence is lacking. We aimed to discover whether CSF GCase activity is altered in newly diagnosed patients with PD and associated with future development of dementia.
Methods: Patients with PD were participants of the ongoing population-based longitudinal ParkWest study in Southwestern Norway and were followed prospectively for up to 10 years. CSF was collected at diagnosis, and GBA carrier status was obtained. Control samples were from persons without neurodegenerative disorders. GCase activity was measured using a validated assay. PD dementia diagnosis was set according to the Movement Disorder Society criteria, and parametric accelerated failure time models were applied to analyze the association of GCase activity with dementia-free survival.
Results: This study enrolled 117 patients with PD (mean age 67.2 years, including 12 GBA non-synonymous variant carriers) and 50 control participants (mean age 64 years). At the time of diagnosis, GCase activity was reduced in patients with PD with (mean ± SD, 0.92 ± 0.40 mU/mg, n = 12) or without GBA variations (1.00 ± 0.37 mU/mg, n = 105) compared with controls (1.20 ± 0.35, n = 50). GCase activity at the time of diagnosis was lower in patients with PD who developed dementia within 10 years (0.85 ± 0.27 mU/mg, n = 41) than in those who did not (1.07 ± 0.40 mU/mg, n = 76, p = 0.001). A 0.1-unit reduction in baseline GCase activity was associated with a faster development of PDD (hazard ratio 1.15, 95% CI 1.03-1.28, p = 0.014).
Discussion: The association of early CSF GCase activity with long-term progression to PD dementia will have important implications for the design of clinical trials for GCase targeting therapies and patient management.
Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that reduced CSF GCase activity at the time of PD diagnosis is associated with an increased risk for later development of PDD.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology.