The goal of this research project is to develop and validate a blood test that would identify individuals at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease and at a point in time prior to onset of any of the typical parkinsonian motor symptoms.
This blood test examines protein levels of a key antioxidant response gene, glutathione S-transferase pi, at baseline and after stimulation with a drug that induces oxidative stress. We will examine the response of this gene in 3 groups: 1) diagnosed PD patients 2) unaffected spouses (environmental controls) and 3) unaffected genetically related individuals (genetic controls).
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
One of the key problems in treating Parkinson’s disease is that we observe symptoms only after the lesion to dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra has significantly progressed. This blood test has the potential to identify individuals that are likely to develop PD at a point in the future and this early identification provides a window for initiation of treatments that could delay or even stop the SN neuronal degeneration, thus delaying or preventing the onset of PD motor symptoms.
We expect to see a difference in expression of glutathione S-transferase in PD patients, confirming our earlier preliminary studies. We also predict that we will see a difference in GSTpi expression in individuals genetically related to these patients, but not in unrelated spouses.