Skin biopsy for assessment of autonomic denervation in Parkinson's disease

R. Dabby, R. Djaldetti, M. Shahmurov, T. A. Treves, B. Gabai, E. Melamed, M. Sadeh, I. Avinoach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autonomic dysfunction in Parkinson's disease (PD) is considered a late complication of the disease or an adverse effect of anti-parkinsonian medications. Morphological changes are demonstrated only by postmortem examination. The study objective was to evaluate peripheral autonomic neural involvement in PD using punch skin biopsy. The study sample included 22 patients (mean age 50 ± 7.7 years, mean disease duration 5.3 ± 3.8 years) and 19 controls. Four-millimeter skin biopsies were immunohistochemically stained with anti-PGP 9.5 antibody. Autonomic innervation of the blood vessels, sweat glands, and erector pili muscles was assessed and rated from 0 (normal) to 2 (severe). Cutaneous autonomic innervation was decreased in patients compared to controls. Semi quantitative analysis demonstrated reduced autonomic innervation of the blood vessels (1.0 ± 0.8 vs. 0.42 ± 0.8 in controls; p < 0.02), of sweat glands (0.95 ± 0.67 vs. 0.47 ± 0.61; p < 0.02) and of the erector pili muscles (1.06 ± 0.55 vs 0.21 ± 0.42; p < 0.001). This method demonstrates that the peripheral autonomic system is affected in PD at early stage of the disease and that autonomic involvement in PD may be more prevalent than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1176
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomic denervation
  • PGP 9.5
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Skin biopsy


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