Physicians may one day be able to diagnose Parkinsonís disease (PD) by analyzing tissue from a personís salivary glands, says a new study supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) from Charles Adler, MD, PhD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic Arizona.
In the past, says Adler, autopsies of Parkinsonís patients showed that abnormal proteins associated with Parkinsonís were found in particular glands under the lower jaw. His new study is the first to find similar proteins in living individuals with PD.†
Adlerís team took biopsies from 15 people with Parkinsonís who were not known to have salivary gland disorders. Tissue was removed from two different saliva glands ó the submandibular gland, which is found under the lower jaw, and from the minor saliva glands in the lower lip. The abnormal Parkinsonís protein was found in nine of the eleven patients with enough tissue to study.
As of yet, there is no diagnostic test for predicting the onset of PD. Salivary glands have the potential to provide physicians with a relatively easy method for diagnosing Parkinsonís, and to do so early in the course of the disease, says Jamie Eberling, PhD, associate director of research programs at MJFF.†
ďThese findings are certainly promising,Ē she explains, ďbut more work is needed. Adlerís team will need to study additional patients on a much larger scale to confirm that proteins in the salivary glands could be a biomarker of PD.
ďShould these results holds true, Adlerís work could have real implications for not only the early detection of Parkinsonís, but also, for potentially finding patients for clinical trials into drugs that could stop the disease before the motor symptoms occur.Ē†