Combined measure of salivary alpha-synuclein species as diagnostic biomarker for Parkinson's disease

J Neurol. 2023 Nov;270(11):5613-5621. doi: 10.1007/s00415-023-11893-x. Epub 2023 Aug 8.


Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis is still vulnerable to bias, and a definitive diagnosis often relies on post-mortem neuropathological diagnosis. In this regard, alpha-synuclein (αsyn)-specific in vivo biomarkers remain a critical unmet need, based on its relevance in the neuropathology. Specifically, content changes in αsyn species such as total (tot-αsyn), oligomeric (o-αsyn), and phosphorylated (p-αsyn) within the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and peripheral fluids (i.e., blood and saliva) have been proposed as PD biomarkers possibly reflecting the neuropathological outcome. Here, we measured the p-αsyn levels in the saliva from 15 PD patients along with tot-αsyn, o-αsyn and their ratios, and compared the results with those from 23 healthy subjects (HS), matched per age and sex. We also calculated the optimal cutoff values for different αsyn species to provide information about their capability to discriminate PD from HS. We found that p-αsyn was the most abundant alpha-synuclein species in the saliva. While p-αsyn concentration did not differ between PD and HS when adjusted for total salivary proteins, the ratio p-αsyn/tot-αsyn was largely lower in PD patients than in HS. Moreover, the concentration of o-αsyn was increased in the saliva of PD patients, and tot-αsyn did not differ between PD and HS. The ROC curves indicated that no single αsyn form or ratio could provide an accurate diagnosis of PD. On the other hand, the ratio of different items, namely p-αsyn/tot-αsyn and o-αsyn, yielded more satisfactory diagnostic accuracy, suggesting that the combined measure of different species in the saliva may show more promises as a diagnostic means for PD.

Keywords: Alpha-synuclein; Biomarkers; Parkinson’s disease; Saliva.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / metabolism
  • ROC Curve
  • alpha-Synuclein / cerebrospinal fluid


  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Biomarkers