Parkinson Biomarker

Parkinson's disease: new potential biomarker identified

A pilot clinical study, carried out by Sapienza University of Rome, the Italian National Research Council and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, has shown for the first time an increase in the chemokine Prokineticin 2 (PK2) in the serum of Parkinson's disease patients, suggesting a potential protective role. The work, published in the journal Movement Disorders, identifies the molecule both as a biomarker and as a drug target to develop useful therapies for Parkinson's disease

In a new all-Italian study, published in the journal Movement Disorders, a significant increase in the chemokine Prokineticin 2 (PK2) has been demonstrated for the first time in the serum of patients with Parkinson's disease. The results of the pilot study, carried out by researchers from Sapienza University of Rome, the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the University of Rome Tor Vergata on a sample of 31 patients with Parkinson's disease, suggest a possible neuroprotective role of the molecule.

"PK2 belongs to a class of small peptides, the prokineticins, present throughout the evolutionary ladder, from invertebrates to human beings - says Roberta Lattanzi of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology "Vittorio Ersparmer " at Sapienza University. About twenty years ago, PK2 was first isolated in our laboratories from the skin secretions of an amphibian (the Bombina Variegata frog) and was soon identified in mammals, including humans. We have observed that the molecule is involved in numerous physiological and pathological functions: it is an important regulator of neurogenesis, circadian rhythm, ingestive behaviour, angiogenesis and the immune response. It also plays a significant role in pain modulation, and it is this last aspect on which our studies have focused in recent years."

The Sapienza research team had already demonstrated in several animal models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain that the development and persistence of pain are directly related to increased PK2 expression both in the central and peripheral nervous system and in neutrophil granulocytes and macrophages, important cells of the immune system. PK2 produced by inflammatory cells triggers further recruitment of macrophages and monocytes and induces a pro-inflammatory phenotype.

The new results now suggest that PK2 may be a potential early biomarker of Parkinson's disease and a drug target for the development of potentially useful therapies in the disease.

The next step will be to confirm these encouraging preliminary data in a more extensive study, including a larger and more heterogeneous sample of patients.



Increase of Prokineticin-2 in Serum of Patients with Parkinson's Disease - Tommaso Schirinzi, Daniela Maftei, Massimo Pieri, Sergio Bernardini, Nicola B. Mercuri, Roberta Lattanzi, Cinzia Severini - Movement Disorders DOI:


Further Information

Roberta Lattanzi
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology "Vittorio Ersparmer"

Wednesday, 03 February 2021

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