To determine the diagnostic discrimination of cutaneous α-synuclein deposition in individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) with and without autonomic dysfunction on autonomic testing, in early and late stages of the disease, and of short and long duration.Methods:
Twenty-eight participants with PD and 23 control participants were studied by skin biopsies at multiple sites, autonomic function testing, and disease-specific scales.Results:
Skin biopsies provide >90% sensitivity and >90% specificity to distinguish PD from control participants across all biopsies sites with quantification of either pilomotor or sudomotor α-synuclein deposition. All individuals with PD have significantly higher cutaneous α-synuclein deposition than control participants, even those individuals with PD and no evidence of autonomic dysfunction. Deposition of α-synuclein is most prominent in sympathetic adrenergic nerve fibers innervating the arrector pili muscles, but is also present in sudomotor (sympathetic cholinergic) nerve fibers. α-Synuclein is present even in the early stages of disease and disease of short duration. α-Synuclein ratios were higher in individuals with autonomic failure, with more advanced stages of disease and disease of longer duration.Conclusions:
The α-synuclein ratio provides a sensitive and specific diagnostic biomarker of PD even in patients without autonomic failure.Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class III evidence that cutaneous α-synuclein deposition accurately identifies patients with PD.