Scientists find how to accurately detect early-stage Parkinson’s disease

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

How is your sense of smell? Do you find yourself frequently dozing off during the day or thrashing about during dreams?

Often, early-stage Parkinson’s disease does not present with typical motor disturbance symptoms, making diagnosis problematic.

In a new study, researchers have found five different models that use these types of non-motor clinical as well as biological variables to more accurately predict early-stage Parkinson’s disease.

Their analysis is one of the first using only non-motor clinical and biologic markers.

Some models performed better than others but all distinguished early stage (preclinical) Parkinson’s disease from healthy, age-matched controls, with better than 80% accuracy.

The models may assist in more timely administration of future treatments as they become available.

The research was conducted by neuroscientists at York University.

In the study, the goal was to develop models that could be used to predict, with greater than 80% efficiency, those with early-stage Parkinson’s pathology versus those without apparent disease.

Two separate analyses were conducted: one for the classification of early Parkinson’s disease versus controls, and the other for classification of early Parkinson’s versus SWEDD (scans without evidence of dopamine deficit).

The term SWEDD refers to the absence, rather than the presence, of an imaging abnormality in patients clinically presumed to have Parkinson’s disease.

The team says these models could be very useful in differentiating patients who may present with Parkinson’s-like symptoms not related to Parkinson’s pathology from patients who actually have the disease.

Facilitated and more accurate prediction of early-stage Parkinson’s can allow those positively diagnosed to adopt lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercise early on that can improve mobility and balance.

In both early Parkinson’s/control and early Parkinson’s/SWEDD analyses, and across all models, hyposmia—a reduced ability to smell and to detect odors—was the single most important feature to distinguish early-onset Parkinson’s, followed by rapid eye movement behavior disorder.

The lead author of the study is Ph.D. candidate Charles Leger.

The study is published in Frontiers in Neurology.

Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.