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Introduction to Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disorder, has long been a source of concern for medical professionals and researchers alike. This debilitating condition, characterized by tremors, stiffness, and impaired movement, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Despite significant advancements in medical science, the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease often occurs after the onset of visible symptoms, when a substantial portion of brain cells have already been damaged.

Before motor symptoms appear, there can be a period where non-motor symptoms emerge, including sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder. REM sleep behavior disorder is a significant predictor of future Parkinson's disease progression. Studying individuals with REM sleep behavior disorder offers an opportunity to gain deeper insights into the early pathological changes before the onset of Parkinson's disease.

Plasma proteomics: A Powerful technique for Parkinsin’s Disease

Biomarkers, biological indicators of a particular disease or condition, have revolutionized the field of medical diagnosis. These molecular signatures, found in various bodily fluids or tissues, provide invaluable insights into the presence, progression, and severity of various diseases. By detecting and analyzing specific biomarkers, healthcare professionals can potentially identify diseases at an early stage, paving the way for timely interventions and improved patient outcomes.

Plasma proteomics, a cutting-edge branch of proteomics, focuses on the comprehensive study of proteins present in the blood plasma. This powerful technique enables researchers to analyze and identify the intricate network of proteins circulating in the bloodstream, offering a unique window into the body's physiological state. By examining the abundance, modifications, and interactions of these proteins, scientists can unravel valuable information about various biological processes, including disease development and progression.

Groundbreaking Advancement

Researchers have made a groundbreaking advancement in the early detection of Parkinson's disease by developing an AI-driven blood test capable of predicting the disease up to seven years before symptoms appear.

On June 18, 2024, a study titled "Plasma proteomics identify biomarkers predicting Parkinson’s disease up to 7 years before symptom onset."  published in Nature Communications. This research indicates that plasma proteomics could potentially predict Parkinson's disease up to seven years before the appearance of motor symptoms.


Credit: Nat Communication(2024), doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-48961-3

In this study, the research team analyzed blood samples from 99 patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, 72 patients with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) who had not yet shown Parkinson's-related motor symptoms, and 36 healthy controls.

They identified persistent dysregulation of 23 proteins related to inflammation, coagulation cascade, and Wnt signaling pathways in the blood of Parkinson’s patients. Among these proteins, six also showed dysregulation in patients with RBD. The research team then utilized a machine learning model to predict diagnostic outcomes based on proteomics. This model could identify 100% of Parkinson’s patients based on the expression of eight specific proteins.

Next, the team tested whether the machine learning model could predict if a patient with RBD would develop Parkinson’s disease. The model was able to predict the onset of Parkinson's up to seven years before motor symptoms appeared, with an accuracy rate of 79%.

The researchers emphasized that identifying early-stage Parkinson’s patients could allow more individuals to participate in preventive clinical trials, thereby improving treatment strategies and research outcomes. They concluded that further validation in larger cohorts is necessary before these findings can be translated into clinical practice.

Plasma Proteomics as a Game-Changer in Parkinson's Disease Research

The blood test is less invasive compared to current methods like lumbar punctures, making it a more patient-friendly diagnostic tool.

The application of plasma proteomics in Parkinson's disease research represents a paradigm shift in our approach to this debilitating condition.By unlocking the potential of biomarkers hidden within the blood plasma, researchers are poised to revolutionize the early detection, monitoring, and management of Parkinson's disease. As this field continues to evolve, it holds the promise of transforming our understanding of the disease's underlying mechanisms and paving the way for more effective therapeutic interventions.


Hällqvist, J., Bartl, M., Dakna, M. et al. Plasma proteomics identify biomarkers predicting Parkinson’s disease up to 7 years before symptom onset. Nat Commun 15, 4759 (2024).