New research offers hope for treating Parkinson’s disease

The results of a recent research project conducted jointly by Cardiocentro Ticino and the EOC Neurocentro deliver a message of hope in the fight against Parkinson’s disease, as well as providing encouraging news for the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. The study focuses on the analysis of blood plasma microvesicles (exosomes), which could allow the disease to be detected at a very early stage, favouring more effective therapeutic approaches. The new method, non-invasive and economical, requires a simple blood sample.

Today, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease occurs at an advanced stage of its clinical manifestations, a limitation that significantly affects the therapeutic approach. The analysis of exosomes in plasma – as proven by studies conducted in the laboratories in Ticino – could lead the way to an early testing of the disease, at a stage in which the inflammatory process that originates it is already occurring. As the researchers point out, this is a revolutionary approach to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. It is also an absolutely non-invasive, painless and inexpensive method, as it requires a simple peripheral blood sample.

EV enrichment, MACSPlex exosome assay, and EV characterization

(A) Protocol for EV enrichment and MACSPlex exosome assay. Blood collected into anticoagulant EDTA tubes underwent serial centrifugation to eliminate cellular components and larger EVs. Plasma samples were incubated overnight with dye-labeled capture beads coated with antibodies against 37 different EV surface antigens. Detection antibodies against CD9, CD63, and CD81 were then added and incubated for 1 hour. After washing steps, samples were analyzed by flow cytometry. (B) Nanoparticle concentration (N/mL plasma) by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), stratified for diameter (smaller nanoparticles, 30–150 nm; larger nanoparticles 151–500 nm). (C) Mean median fluorescence intensity (MFI) for CD9, CD63, and CD81 at flow cytometry analysis. (D) Correlation between mean MFI of CD9CD63CD81 and N/mL by NTA: the regression line is reported in red, with 95% CI. (E) Western blot of samples from HC, PD, MSA, and AP-Tau subjects after immunocapturing compared with whole plasma (dilution 1:100), showing the presence of specific EV markers (CD81, Alix, tumor susceptibility gene 101) and the absence of plasma contaminants (apolipoprotein A1, GRP94). Data are expressed as median and interquartile range; p values < 0.05 were considered significant (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001). AP-Tau = atypical parkinsonism with tauopathies; EV = extracellular vesicle; HC = healthy control; MSA = multiple system atrophy; PD = Parkinson disease.

“Besides the scientific value of the research and our satisfaction for the recognition – says Prof. Dr. med Alain Kaelin, medical and scientific director of the Neurocentro EOC and full professor at USI – I think it is important to reflect on the added value of a synergy between apparently distant research fields – neurology and cardiology – which nevertheless manage to find original and very interesting developments in the daily and transparent comparison of their respective works, a condition that has been positively achieved in recent years in our joint laboratories in Taverne”.

Source – Università della Svizzera italiana

Vacchi E, Burrello J, Di Silvestre D, Burrello A, Bolis S, Mauri P, Vassalli G, Cereda CW, Farina C, Barile L, Kaelin-Lang A, Melli G. (2020) Immune profiling of plasma-derived extracellular vesicles identifies Parkinson disease. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm 7(6); e866. [article]

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