Researchers at UCLA Health have developed a blood test that can distinguish between two very similar movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA). The test, which is currently for research use only, identifies the disease by analyzing the contents of tiny sub-cellular vesicles called “exosomes” that are sent out by brain cells and wind up in the blood. The researchers reported their findings online on May 15, 2021 in Acta Neuropathologica. Their open-access article is titled “α-Synuclein in Blood Exosomes Immunoprecipitated Using Neuronal and Oligodendroglial Markers Distinguishes Parkinson’s Disease From Multiple System Atrophy.” Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to distinguish from other neurodegenerative diseases, including MSA, due to similar symptoms such as muscle rigidity and tremors. Patients who have been incorrectly diagnosed with one or the other disease may feel anxiety when unexpected symptoms occur, or, in the case of a Parkinson’s misdiagnosis, the disease progresses faster than predicted.
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