Tears may determine Parkinson’s diagnosis, as per the study conducted by the author Mark Lew, MD, The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. Lew adds: “We believe our research is the first to show that tears may be a reliable, inexpensive and noninvasive biological marker of Parkinson’s disease.” He says that the research team investigated tears in specific as they contain various proteins, produced by the secretory cells of the tear gland. These cells are stimulated by the nerves in order to secrete the proteins into tears.
The research team also stated that any change in nerve function may be seen in the protein levels in tears as Parkinson’s has the ability to affect the nerve function outside of the brain.
To conduct the study, tear samples were taken from 55 people with Parkinson’s and 27 people without the disease. These samples were then compared. The participants considered were of same age and gender. The study conducted was for analyzing the tears for the levels of four proteins that could tell about the possibility of Parkinson’s diagnosis.
After the study, differences were found in the levels of a protein named alpha-synuclein, in specific, in tears of people with Parkinson’s as compared to others. There is a possibility found in the study that the tear gland secretory cells could themselves produce these different forms of alpha-synuclein. These can be secreted into tears directly.
As per the study, Lew seemed positive stating: “Knowing that something as simple as tears could help neurologists differentiate between people who have Parkinson’s disease and those who don’t in a noninvasive manner is exciting.”
This study is to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 21 to 27, 2018.