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New Diagnostics for PD Might Allow Early Diagnosis, Prevention

Parkinson's diagnosis

A new way of diagnosing Parkinson’s disease based on manifestations that appear decades before motor symptoms — the current hallmarks for diagnosis — might allow early diagnosis and even prevention.

The study, “From Prodromal to Overt Parkinson’s Disease: Towards a New Definition in the Year 2040,” was published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by progressive loss of coordination and movement. Currently, a person is diagnosed when those symptoms appear. However, there are some risk factors and symptoms that precede motor manifestations and constitute the early stages of the disease (called prodromal).

“Brilliant work of many in different scientific fields has paved the way for the concept of prodromal  [Parkinson’s disease]; that is, a phase of years to decades in which non-motor and subtle motor symptoms may indicate spreading PD pathology, but do not meet the threshold for diagnosis according to the classic motor-based clinical criteria,” researchers said.

The development of new diagnostic criteria that allow the identification of prodromal Parkinson’s might help to better understand disease progression, lead to early diagnosis and treatment, and prevent classic motor symptoms.

Now, Parkinson’s experts Daniela Berg, MD, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany, and Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc, Montreal General Hospital, Canada, have developed a mathematical model that calculates a person’s risk of being in the prodromal phase of the disease. This model is based on three main premises relative to Parkinson’s prodromal phase:

  • The fact that the neurodegenerative process in Parkinson’s is slow and continuous, possibly starting in the gut or olfactory system, finally reaching the nervous system;

  •  The increased knowledge regarding risk factors and clinical symptoms that occur years or decades prior to motor manifestations. These can be correlated to imaging findings and tissue examinations;

  • Studies have found that people who manifest different combinations of risk and prodromal markers can many times progress to Parkinson’s disease.

Currently, however, the model has some limitations. For example, it does not consider age and sex factors, and cannot predict whether or when motor symptoms will appear.

“The prodromal PD criteria are meant to be research criteria and constitute a first step in what should be a continually updated process,” researchers stated.

New Parkinson’s biomarkers — substances present in the body that indicate the occurrence of a condition — are continually being discovered, providing new information that makes the model more reliable. In time, the hallmarks for diagnosis might be based on the presence of biomarkers instead of motor symptoms.

Wearable technology, such as mobile phones, also allows the continuous capture of movement in daily life, which will benefit “from new methods of data handling and analyses,” researchers said.

“With new data arising from objective movement measurements, the earlier detection of motor symptoms will become possible. Objectively measured markers … wearable-based markers of activity … indicate that we can expect to change our understanding of early motor PD,” researchers said.

The model will be available online, allowing doctors to calculate the risk for patients. Additionally, there will be a platform where experts can share information and discuss the new criteria for diagnosis.

With this collaborative model, researchers expect to incorporate the new criteria and have a functional model by 2040. This is expected to allow early diagnosis and treatment and, in time, prevention of clinical symptoms.

“Our review highlights the importance of making an earlier diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, and in particular PD, for now primarily to understand the disease better,” Berg and Postuma said in a press release. “However, in the future, once we have preventive therapy, it will become critical to find patients in the earliest stages of the disease so that we can prevent the disease from developing and affecting quality of life.”

The post New Diagnostics for PD Might Allow Early Diagnosis, Prevention appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Restless Legs Syndrome Could Be Risk Factor for Parkinson’s, Study Suggests

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) — recurrent discomfort and the urge to move the legs at rest — may be associated with an increased frequency of constipation and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), two premotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a study suggests.
The study, “The association between restless legs syndrome and premotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” was published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
RLS is more common in Parkinson’s patients than the general population. Studies have shown contradictory results, with some reporting that, similar to Parkinson’s, dopamine-mediated cell communication is impaired in people with RLS, while other researchers have found no hallmark Parkinson’s alterations in RLS patients.
To address this discrepancy, Harvard Medical School researchers conducted an analysis to identify associations between RLS symptom questionnaire responses and the development of well-known prodromal (early) Parkinson’s symptoms, including constipation; possible RBD, characterized by abnormal movements and dream-enacting behaviors during sleep; and hyposmia, or the reduced ability to smell.
This approach allowed scientists to analyze whether previous conflicting results could be due to the fact that RLS occurs during early neurodegeneration before Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Eligible participants were identified from a group of 51,529 men in health professions, ages 40-75, who took part in the prospective Health Professional Follow-up Study (NCT00005182) beginning in 1986. Questionnaires were sent biannually asking about lifestyles and medical histories. Researchers included individuals who had answered questions on RLS in both 2002 and 2008 and who had not been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for a total of 16,636 men.
RLS was diagnosed according to the International RLS Study Group criteria, which defines RLS as unpleasant leg sensations with motor restlessness and an urge to move the legs at rest, which worsened in the evening/night and occurred more than five times per month.
Constipation and possible RBD were determined in the 2012 questionnaire. Constipation was defined as a bowel movement every other day or less and/or laxative use at least twice weekly. Participants were considered to have possible RBD when they had been told by their sleep partners that they acted out their dreams while sleeping at least three times in the past. Hyposmia — determined in 2014 — was assessed with the 12-item Brief Smell Identification Test in 5,249 men with constipation or possible RBD and in age-matched controls.
Results revealed that the prevalence of RLS was 4.1% in 2002 (673 men) and 5% in 2008 (833). While only 232 men, with a mean age of 66.91 years, had RLS in both 2002 and 2008, 601 participants (3.8%), with a mean age of 66.38 years, became RLS-positive in 2008.
Race, body mass index, smoking history, physical activity, and alcohol, caffeine and lactose intake did not vary across the groups.
Having RLS in 2002 and/or 2008 was associated with a higher risk of constipation in 2012, compared with controls. Only individuals who had RLS in both 2002 and 2008 (continuous) showed higher odds of having possible RBD alone, and both constipation and possible RBD in 2012, “indicating a potential association between continuous/recurrent RLS and [Parkinson’s],” according to the researchers.
They cautioned that constipation

Source: Parkinson's News Today