The concept of ‘idiopathic’ Parkinson’s disease (PD) as a single entity has been challenged with the identification of several clinical subtypes, pathogenic genes and putative causative environmental agents. In addition to classic motor symptoms, non-motor manifestations (such as rapid eye movement sleep disorder, anosmia, constipation and depression) appear at prodromic/premotor stage and evolve, along with cognitive impairment and dysautonomia, as the disease progresses, often dominating the advanced stages of the disease. The key molecular pathogenic mechanisms include α-synuclein misfolding and aggregation, mitochondrial dysfunction, impairment of protein clearance (associated with deficient ubiquitin-proteasome and autophagy-lysosomal systems), neuroinflammation and oxidative stress. The involvement of dopaminergic as well as noradrenergic, glutamatergic, serotonergic and adenosine pathways provide insights into the rich and variable clinical phenomenology associated with PD and the possibility of alternative therapeutic approaches beyond traditional dopamine replacement therapies.
One of the biggest challenges in the development of potential neuroprotective therapies has been the lack of reliable and sensitive biomarkers of progression. Immunotherapies such as the use of vaccination or monoclonal antibodies directed against aggregated, toxic α-synuclein.as well as anti-aggregation or protein clearance strategies are currently investigated in clinical trials. The application of glucagon-like peptide one receptor agonists, specific PD gene target agents (such as GBA or LRRK2 modifiers) and other potential disease modifying drugs provide cautious optimism that more effective therapies are on the horizon. Emerging therapies, such as new symptomatic drugs, innovative drug delivery systems and novel surgical interventions give hope to patients with PD about their future outcomes and prognosis.
- clinical neurology
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Contributors JJ and EKT drafted the manuscript and approved the final version.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement No data are available. No data are available as this is a review.
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