Parkinson's 20 years before the onset of recognizable disease


Advances in the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease

Researchers at King's College London have already announced that they have identified the first signs of Parkinson's that appear 15 to 20 years before the first symptoms of the disease.

The recent study from King's College London found that early signs of Parkinson's in the brain can be found between 15 and 20 years before the onset of the first symptoms. The results of the study were published in the English journal "Lancet Neurology".

Parkinson's disease is a disease that makes the lives of people affected and their relatives considerably more difficult. (Image: Ocskay Mark /

Will the results help improve treatment?

In studies of a small number of high-risk patients, disorders have been detected in the brain's serotonin system, which controls mood, sleep, and movement. This finding may lead to new screening tools and treatments for Parkinson's disease, researchers report.

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disorder. The main symptoms include tremors and depression, in addition, memory and sleep disorders often occur in the disease. Traditionally, it is thought that the disease is related to dopamine, which is absent in the brains of people with Parkinson's. Although there is still no cure, there are treatments to control the symptoms. These focus mainly on the restoration of dopamine levels.

What is the role of serotonin levels?

However, researchers at King's College London suggest that changes in the levels of serotonin in the brain may be the first in Parkinson's disease and may serve as early warning signs. The study looked at the brains of 14 people from remote villages in southern Greece and Italy, all of them with rare mutations in the so-called SNCA gene, making them almost prone to developing the disease. Half of this group had already been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and the other half had no symptoms, making them ideal for studying the course of the disease.

Comparing the brain with 65 patients with Parkinson's disease and 25 healthy volunteers, the researchers were able to detect early brain changes in patients aged 20 to 30 years. These have been found in the serotonin system, a hormone that has many functions in the brain and affects, for example, mood, appetite, cognition, well-being and exercise. The anomalies were found long before the onset of movement problems and before the change in dopamine levels, the study authors explain. The results suggest that early detection of changes in the serotonin system could allow the development of new therapies to slow and ultimately prevent the progression of Parkinson's disease, the researchers add.

Was there any limitation in the study?

The imaging method used in the study is highly specialized and its application is limited to a very small number of research centers. Therefore, it still can not be used to diagnose patients or even to evaluate new treatments in large clinical trials.

More searches are needed

Current research is a promising approach to detect Parkinson's disease as early as possible. Now more research is needed. However, developing a tool to measure and monitor the development of Parkinson's disease can help many patients. (THE)


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