Saliva gland test may hold key to diagnose Parkinson's disease

Washington, Jan 11 (ANI): New research from Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Banner Sun Health Research Institute suggests that testing a portion of a person's saliva gland may be a way to diagnose Parkinson's disease.

"There is currently no diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease," study author Charles Adler, MD, Ph.D., a neurologist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona said.

"We have previously shown in autopsies of Parkinson's patients that the abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson's are consistently found in the submandibular saliva glands, found under the lower jaw.

"This is the first study demonstrating the value of testing a portion of the saliva gland to diagnose a living person with Parkinson's disease. Making a diagnosis in living patients is a big step forward in our effort to understand and better treat patients," he added.

The study involved 15 people with an average age of 68 who had Parkinson's disease for an average of 12 years, responded to Parkinson's medication and did not have known saliva gland disorders.

Biopsies were taken of two different saliva glands: the submandibular gland and the minor saliva glands in the lower lip.

The abnormal Parkinson's protein was detected in nine of the 11 patients who had enough tissue to study. While still being analyzed, the rate of positive findings in the biopsies of the lower lip glands appears much lower than for the lower jaw gland.

"This study provides the first direct evidence for the use of submandibular gland biopsies as a diagnostic test for living patients with Parkinson's disease," Dr. Adler said.

"This finding may be of great use when needing definitive proof of Parkinson's disease, especially when considering performing invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation surgery or gene therapy," he said. (ANI)

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