Parkinson disease (PD) is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with intra-neuronal accumulation of aggregated alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) protein but unfortunately current knowledge still does not address the underlying pathogenic mechanisms. As a consequence PD lacks both an effective causal treatment and definitive early diagnostic criteria. In the last few years a large amount of evidence has shown that peripheral tissues like skin autonomic nerves, gastro-intestinal mucosa, salivary glands show immunoreactivity to pathogenic forms of α-Syn. Thus peripheral tissues that can be easily biopsied contain nervous tissue prone to the pathology, bearing potentially important information on disease mechanisms.
Our laboratory has a strong translational attitude and aims to set-up novel biomarkers of disease by analyzing skin biopsy and peripheral fluids via advanced new biotechnology. The projects take advantage of a biobank (clinical database, plasma, CSF and skin biopsies) for PD and atypical parkinsonisms that we established at Neurocentro della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano since 2015.
The prolonged use of dopamine-replacement therapies in PD patients may lead to a complication called dyskinesia. Levodopa-induced dyskinesia is characterized by abnormal involuntary movements (dystonia, chorea, athetosis). Thus a research focus is the development of new animal models of the disease, e.g. to understand the pathophysiology of levodopa-induced dyskinesia.

Recent publications:

  1. Vacchi E, Pinton S., Kaelin-Lang A., Melli G. Targeting Alpha Synuclein Aggregates in Cutaneous Peripheral Nerve Fibers by Free-Floating Immunofluorescence Assay. J Vis Exp. 2019 Jun 25;(148). doi: 10.3791/59558.
  2. Melli G, Vacchi E, Biemmi V, Galati S, Staedler C, Ambrosini R, Kaelin-Lang A. Cervical skin denervation and axonal alpha-synuclein aggregates are markers of Parkinson Disease progression. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2018 Oct 14;5(11):1394-1407
  3. Sgroi S, Capper-Loup C, Paganetti P, Kaelin-Lang A. Enkephalin and dynorphin neuropeptides are differently correlated with locomotor hypersensitivity and levodopa-induced dyskinesia in parkinsonian rats. Exp Neurol 2016; 280:80
  4. Sgroi S, Kaelin-Lang A, Capper-Loup C. Spontaneous locomotor activity and L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia are not linked in 6-OHDA parkinsonian rats. Front Behav Neurosci 2014; 8:331
  5. Mordasini L, Kessler TM, Kiss B, Schüpbach M, Pollo C, Kaelin-Lang A. Bladder function in patients with dystonia undergoing deep brain stimulation. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2014; 20(9):1015-7
  6. Pollo C, Kaelin-Lang A, Oertel MF, Stieglitz L, Taub E, Fuhr P, Lozano AM, Raabe A, Schüpbach M. Directional deep brain stimulation: an intraoperative double-blind pilot study. Brain. 2014; 137(7): 2015-26