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Cheek cell–derived α-synuclein and DJ-1 do not differentiate Parkinson's disease from control


Recently, α-synuclein (α-syn) and DJ-1, 2 proteins critically involved in Parkinson's disease (PD), have been shown to be present in saliva, suggesting their potential utility as biomarkers of PD. However, the origin and influence of demographic characteristics (e.g., age or sex) on these proteins are unknown. We identified cheek epithelium, which forms the majority of the cellular component of saliva and is readily accessible clinically, as 1 of several potential sources of salivary α-syn and DJ-1. However, no PD-related trend in the cellular component was present. In the supernatant collected from 198 healthy subjects, no correlation was seen between salivary DJ-1 or α-syn with age. When male and female subjects were analyzed separately, a weak age-dependent increase in DJ-1 level was present in male subjects, along with slightly increased α-syn in female subjects. These results, albeit largely negative, provide critical information for understanding the salivary gland pathology and saliva as a PD biomarker source, and must be considered in future investigations of salivary changes in PD.

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