Biomarkers for cognitive impairment in Lewy body disorders: Status and relevance for clinical trials

Andrew Siderowf*, Dag Aarsland, Brit Mollenhauer, Jennifer G Goldman, Bernard Ravina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Biomarkers have the potential to improve diagnosis and prognosis, and guide clinical treatment decisions. In research, biomarkers can be used for patient selection and as outcome measures in clinical trials. A range of biochemical and imaging biomarkers are relevant to patients with Lewy body disorders, including PD, PD dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. Dopaminergic imaging is used for differential diagnosis of parkinsonian disorders versus tremor disorders without dopamingeric deficits, and also to differentiate dementia with Lewy bodies from Alzheimer's disease. Markers of underlying Alzheimer's disease pathology have been applied to PD patients experiencing cognitive decline to determine the extent of mixed pathology in these cases. Assessment of alpha-synuclein species in spinal fluid is possible, and more specific assays attempt to identify alpha-synuclein aggregates or phosphorylated alpha-synuclein. While alpha-synuclein markers are intended to measure the pathology most central to PD dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies, convincing evidence of robust reliability and validity from multiple laboratories is lacking. Similarly, alpha-synuclein imaging by PET or single-photon emission computed tomography, while an important research goal, is not yet available. In addition to their uses in the clinic, biomarkers have natural uses in therapeutic trials that target cognitive and neuropsychiatric features of Lewy body disorders. The biomarkers most likely to be incorporated into trials are dopaminergic and amyloid imaging for the purpose of accurate patient selection, and possibly to demonstrate the utility of antiamyloid treatments in Lewy body disorders patients with mixed pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-536
Number of pages9
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Parkinson's disease
  • biomarkers
  • cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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