Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative Reports Reduced Tau found in CSF of Parkinson’s subjects



Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative Reports Reduced Tau found in CSF of Parkinson’s subjects


The search for biological biomarkers to predict the risk or onset of Parkinson’s disease is important for the development of neuroprotective strategies that will benefit people who are at-risk, even before symptoms emerge.  Through the search for biomarkers, there is potential for a permanent cure, instead of temporary symptomatic treatments. The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) has over 800 research subjects at 32 research sites in 13 countries of the world, a large observational study that is producing some fascinating results.


Ken Marek, M.D. is the president and senior scientist at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders in New Haven, Connecticut and also clinical professor of Neurology at Yale University.  He is also the principal investigator for the PPMI study.  In the past he said, “The entire goal of this study is to help us to accelerate therapies. The general way in which we can do that is by simply having tools that can be used to objectively measure disease, but the more specific way is that many of these biomarkers will hopefully identify subsets of individuals who may be affected in different ways. For example, some individuals with Parkinson disease might have more of a synuclein problem, whereas others have more of a LRRK2 problem. Using these biomarkers to direct therapy will also be extremely valuable in making those therapeutic trials more likely to be effective.”


Dr. Marek presented the most recent data from this study at the 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Stockholm, Sweden.

He reported that one recent, significant observation has been that in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from people with PARKINSON’S so far examined, there has been a reduction of tau.  Tau is a protein abundantly found in neurons, but when it malfunctions and clumps together it contributes to neurodegeneration and is indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.  Because PARKINSON’S is also a neurodegenerative disease, there was an expectation to find tau elevated in the CSF of PARKINSON’S patients. .  So it was surprising to find that it was reduced.  Similar results were reported in two smaller studies.  “But our data is the biggest sample, it does seem to be a real finding” he said.  Then he added: “We can’t explain it at the moment.  It is leading to much discussion and additional research is needed to understand what we are seeing.”


The PPMI study has divided its research into four different categories.  They are looking at clinical measures, such as can be measured by the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale; imaging, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) single photon emission computed tomography (PET scan) and photoacoustic computed tomography.  The genetics category includes people with LRRK2 and synuclein mutations and there is a category for bio specimen samples of CSF, blood or plasma.


International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS) 18th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Abstract 729


Medscape Medical News , Topic Alert June 20, 2014




Review by Marcia McCall


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