Network-based metaanalysis identifies HNF4A and PTBP1 as longitudinally dynamic biomarkers for Parkinson's disease.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 17; 112(7):2257-62.PN
Environmental and genetic factors are likely to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease among the elderly. Network-based metaanalysis of four independent microarray studies identified the hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4A), a transcription factor associated with gluconeogenesis and diabetes, as a central regulatory hub gene up-regulated in blood of PD patients. In parallel, the polypyrimidine tract binding protein 1 (PTBP1), involved in the stabilization and mRNA translation of insulin, was identified as the most down-regulated gene. Quantitative PCR assays revealed that HNF4A and PTBP1 mRNAs were up- and down-regulated, respectively, in blood of 51 PD patients and 45 controls nested in the Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers for Parkinson's Disease. These results were confirmed in blood of 50 PD patients compared with 46 healthy controls nested in the Harvard Biomarker Study. Relative abundance of HNF4A mRNA correlated with the Hoehn and Yahr stage at baseline, suggesting its clinical utility to monitor disease severity. Using both markers, PD patients were classified with 90% sensitivity and 80% specificity. Longitudinal performance analysis demonstrated that relative abundance of HNF4A and PTBP1 mRNAs significantly decreased and increased, respectively, in PD patients during the 3-y follow-up period. The inverse regulation of HNF4A and PTBP1 provides a molecular rationale for the altered insulin signaling observed in PD patients. The longitudinally dynamic biomarkers identified in this study may be useful for monitoring disease-modifying therapies for PD.