Depression may be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease (PD) risk, reports study findings published in the journal Neurology last week.
Investigators looked at data from more than 20,000 people with and without depression from over 10 years culled from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. After adjusting for age and gender, they found that patients with depression were 3.24 more likely to develop Parkinson’s than healthy controls.
“Studies have shown that Parkinson’s disease can affect serotonin levels, which are associated with depression. If we can learn more about how these conditions are related, we may be able to use depression as a screening tool for Parkinson’s and study its underlying pathology to teach us about Parkinson’s pathways,” said Maurizio Facheris, MD, associate director of research programs at The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).
Researchers have been looking at pre-motor risk factors of PD. The Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative (PPMI) is recruiting people without PD but with known risk factors: loss of the sense of smell, REM sleep behaviour disorder or mutation of either the LRRK2 or alpha-synuclein gene. Observing the clinical, biological and imaging pathology before disease onset can teach researchers what they should look for in screening for Parkinson’s and may lead to earlier diagnosis and development of prevention strategies.