Study Rationale: Mutations in PINK1 are linked to familial Parkinson’s disease (PD), but their role in sporadic forms of the disorder are not clear. The PINK1 protein works with PRKN to dispose of damaged mitochondria, structures that produce cellular energy, and failure to remove these impaired mitochondria can harm neurons. Although people with PD likely have altered levels of PINK1 protein, there are currently no sensitive methods for accurately measuring PINK1 in clinical samples from people with PD.
Hypothesis: Our hypothesis is that PD patients will have altered PINK1 levels.
Study Design: We will study different antibodies for their ability to sensitively detect PINK1 in samples from cells that naturally have different levels of PINK1, including some that lack the protein entirely. Once we have established the best set of antibodies for detecting PINK1, we will test other conditions to optimize the approach and then use our method to measure PINK1 in clinical samples from people with PD.
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: If successful, this approach could reveal whether people with PD have altered PINK1 levels, which could be contribute to the course of disease. In addition, PINK1 levels could be used as a surrogate biomarker for treatments that might become available in the future.
Next Steps for Development: We will begin by developing this assay for use detecting PINK1 in postmortem brain samples. Developing an assay that could be used to measure PINK1 in clinical samples from living individuals would be ideal.