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Blood Test could detect Parkinson’s Disease

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Potential for early detection of Parkinson's

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First published: Aug 30, 2023


Parkinson's disease or PD is a neurodegenerative disease that causes Mitochondrial DNA (or mtDNA) damage in certain brain regions. This study found that this mtDNA damage was also increased in specific blood cells found in patients suffering from PD and also in subjects with a genetic mutation that provokes PD, in comparison to normal controls who had much lower levels.

cell with mitochondria, enlarged mitochondria and a mtDNA
Mitochondria and its circular DNA strands

Parkinson’s disease

PD Is a brain disorder caused by the death of certain neurons that reduces the output of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which in turn provokes tremors, rigidity, difficulty in moving, and dementia. It takes years to progress and is difficult to diagnose in its early stages when people suffering from it could alleviate their symptoms by taking experimental or existing drugs.

It has no cure and is linked to genetic and environmental causes. It affects around one million people in the U.S.

The disease causes mitochondria to malfunction. They are tiny organelles inside your cells, that produce the energy required by your body. Mitochondria have their own DNA known as mtDNA (completely different to the DNA found in your nuclear genes).

Studies have found that defective mitochondria also appear in PD patients' blood cells, implying that the disease affects both blood and brain mtDNA.

This "biomarker" for PD disease in the blood could allow an early detection of it, long before the first clinical symptoms appear.

Validation and larger scale clinical trials will be necessary before blood tests to check for Parkinson's are approved (1).

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References and Further Reading

(1) Rui Qi et al. (2023). A blood-based marker of mitochondrial DNA damage in Parkinson's disease. Sci. Transl. Med.15,eabo1557(2023).DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.abo1557

About this Article

Blood Test could detect Parkinson’s Disease, A. Whittall

©2019, 30 Aug. 2023. Update scheduled for 09 Sept. 2026.

Tags: mtDNA, mitochondria, Parkinson's disease, health news

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