A new blood-based analysis that evaluates the levels and content of tiny vesicles released by red blood cells may help diagnose patients with Parkinson’s disease according to disease stage, researchers suggest. The new method was described in the study, “Portrait of Blood-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease,” published online on November 5, 2018 in Neurobiology of Disease. Parkinson’s disease is linked to a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations and several molecular mechanisms. This represents a challenge for the development and identification of useful biomarkers for diagnosis and disease progression, as well as to track the effectiveness of new treatments. All human cells produce tiny vesicles that can contain fatty molecules, proteins, and genetic information, which they release to the surrounding environment. These so-called extracellular vesicles (EVs) are produced both in healthy states and disease conditions, and are used by cells to communicate among themselves. Given the major role these EVs may have, researchers hypothesized that their cargo could hold useful information on the biological state of the body, representing a possible new diagnostic tool. To this end, Canadian researchers developed a new method of isolating EVs from blood samples that would preserve the EVs’ integrity, while still removing any potential contaminants. Using flow cytometry, a technique that allows the visualization and sorting of cells and small particles according to their size and shape, the team could identify not only EVs, but also which cells they originatd from. After the EVs were isolated, the team could analyze their content. Following the assay’s optimization, the team analyzed blood samples collected from 60 Parkinson’s patients and 37 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers.
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