Marta del Campo Milán is a researcher with the Recognized Research Group NEUROFAN - Neuropharmacology of Addictions and Degenerative Disorders at Universidad CEU San Pablo and is also responsible for the biomarker platform at the Barcelona Beta Brain Research Center of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation. In collaboration with fifteen experts from other countries she has published an article in the Nature Communications journal presenting cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that accurately identify patients with DLB or Parkinson's disease. These biomarkers could be used to improve early diagnosis or as markers in clinical trials for the disease.
The international multicenter study was led by Marta del Campo and Charlotte Teunissen of the VU University Medical Center, with the participation of universities and research centers such as the Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED), the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the Born-Bunge Institute at the University of Antwerp, the Center for Neurosciences Neuroprotection and Neuromodulation Research Group in Brussels, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.
"Dementia with Lewy bodies is one of the most common forms of dementia in the elderly after Alzheimer's and is clinically characterized by cognitive fluctuations, visual hallucinations, parkinsonism, and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder," explains Marta del Campo.
It is characterized by abnormal brain deposits of alpha-synuclein protein, forming aggregates known as Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are not exclusive to this disease; they can also be found in Parkinson's disease. "Unfortunately, a large number of patients cannot be diagnosed, which is why we embarked on this study," the expert explains. In the early stages, the symptoms of Lewy body dementia can be very mild and overlap with those of other diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
Researchers used proximity extension immunoassays to measure 665 proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid of 109 patients with Lewy body dementia, 235 with Alzheimer's disease, and 190 without cognitive impairment. "We identified more than 50 dysregulated cerebrospinal fluid proteins in patients with Lewy body dementia enriched in myelination processes, among others. A very pronounced increase in the enzyme involved in dopamine biosynthesis - DDC - was observed in DLB patients. The levels of this protein efficiently discriminated this type of dementia from Alzheimer's patients and the control group," Del Campo states.
"The classification model revealed a panel of seven cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, including DDC, which better identifies the disease. We have also managed to develop and validate a multiple and personalized panel containing six of these markers." Additionally, thanks to proteomic data in the public database of the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), researchers found that DDC, along with other markers associated with DLB, was also increased in patients with early-stage Parkinson's. As Del Campo highlights: "The relevance of these results may go beyond the field of Lewy body dementia and could help improve diagnoses and treatments in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and others with early-stage dopaminergic deficiency."
Del Campo, M., Vermunt,
L., Peeters, C.F.W. et al.
profiling reveals biomarkers to discriminate dementia with Lewy bodies from
Alzheimer´s disease. Nat Commun
14, 5635 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-41122-y