Test helps to diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

Test helps to diagnose Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

By the editorial team of Labmedica in Spanish

The skin biopsies can be used to detect high levels of abnormal proteins that are found in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and can shed new light on both.

Alzheimer’s disease has been ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and 5.4 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects one million Americans, with at least 60,000 new cases reported each year.

Scientists from the University of San Luis Potosi (Mexico) biopsies of skin of 20 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 16 with Parkinson’s disease and 17 with dementia caused by other diseases and were compared with 12 healthy people the same age group. The scientists analyzed these samples of skin to see if there were specific types of altered proteins, indicating if a person had Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. In comparison with healthy patients and those with dementia caused by other conditions, which had both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease levels were seven times higher than the protein tau. People with Parkinson’s disease also had levels as eight times higher than the protein alpha-synuclein in comparison with the healthy control group.

Ildefonso Rodriguez Leyva, MD, lead author of the study, said: “Until now, the pathologic confirmation was not possible without a biopsy of the brain, and therefore these diseases often go unnoticed until the disease has progressed. Hypothesized that since the skin has the same origin as the brain tissue in the embryo, could also show the same abnormal proteins. This new test offers a potential biomarker that may allow them to doctors identify and diagnose these diseases with more time. More studies are needed to confirm these results, but the results are exciting because we could potentially begin to use the skin biopsies of patients alive to study and learn more about these diseases. This also means that the tissue would be much more easily available for study by the scientists. This procedure could be used to study not only Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but also other neurodegenerative diseases”.  The study will be presented in the 67° Annual Congress of the American Academy of Neurology, which will be held from 18 until 25 April 2015, in Washington DC (USA).