Diminished nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurotransmission is a biochemical hallmark of Parkinson's disease. Despite this, a reliable trait biomarker of sporadic Parkinson's disease has not emerged from measurements of cerebrospinal fluid dopamine metabolites. Previous studies have highlighted strong neurochemical relationships between dopamine and various purine compounds. In this study, we analyzed cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of homovanillic acid (the major catabolite of dopamine) and the purine compound xanthine for a comparison of 217 unmedicated Parkinson's disease subjects and 26 healthy controls. These compounds were highly correlated for both the Parkinson's disease subjects (r=0.68) and for controls (r=0.73; both groups, p<0.001). While neither homovanillic acid nor xanthine concentrations differentiated Parkinson's disease from controls, their ratio did. For controls, the mean [xanthine]/[homovanillic acid] quotient was 13.1±5.5 as compared to the Parkinson's disease value of 17.4±6.7 at an initial lumbar CSF collection (p=0.0017), and 19.7±8.7 (p<0.001) at a second CSF collection up to 24 months later. The [xanthine]/[homovanillic acid] ratio in the Parkinson's disease subjects differed as a function of disease severity, as measured by the sum of Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Activities of Daily Living and Motor Exam ratings. The [xanthine]/[homovanillic acid] ratio also increased between the first and second CSF collections, suggesting that this quotient provides both a state and trait biomarker of Parkinson's disease. These observations add to other neurochemical evidence that links purine metabolism to Parkinson's disease.
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