A new study to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology Meeting in Washington, DC, suggests that skin biopsies may help diagnose Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Researchers led by Ildefonso Rodriguez-Leyva at the Central Hospital at the University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico hypothesized that due to the shared embryonic origin of skin and brain tissue, misfolded proteins characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases may also be present in the skin. In a small study of AD and PD patients as well as patients with other forms of dementia and healthy controls, the researchers found elevated levels of tau protein in AD patient skin samples. Similar results were obtained with alpha-synuclein in the PD skin biopsies. Further confirmation of these findings in a larger cohort is necessary, but if confirmed, this approach could hold promise not only for AD and PD, but also for other protein misfolding diseases, such as ALS.
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