BACKGROUND: Enormous effort is being put into the identification and characterization of symptoms that may be used as predictive and progression markers in Parkinson's disease (PD). An impressive number of PD patients and individuals at risk for or in the prodromal stage of PD are currently followed in longitudinal studies; however, there does not exist an overview on the kind of markers evaluated and the assessments used.
METHODS: Information on the design, sample size, evaluated markers and assessments of 21 studies of the Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research BioLoC-PD working group were collected by questionnaire. The studies were classified into at risk/prodromal or clinical PD cohorts. The assessments were grouped into quantitative assessments, investigator-rated assessments, investigator interviews, patient-rated questionnaires and caregiver-rated questionnaires.
RESULTS: Compilation of these data revealed an interesting consensus on evaluated markers, but there was an enormous variability of assessments. Furthermore, there is a remarkable similarity in the markers assessed and evaluation methods applied in the risk/prodromal and clinical PD cohorts.
CONCLUSIONS: The inventory of the longitudinal cohorts that are part of the BioLoC-PD consortium reveals that there is a growing consensus on the markers that should be assessed in longitudinal cohort studies in PD. However, controversy still exists on the specific type of assessment. To allow comparison of data and common analyses it will be essential to harmonize scales and assessment outcomes.