Methods: We recruited 169 subjects (71 PD, 38 MSA, and 60 age-similar nonneurological controls). Clinico-demographic data were collected. PD and MSA were subtyped and the severity assessed using the MDS-UPDRS and UMSARS, respectively. Fecal calprotectin and blood immune markers were analyzed.
Results: Compared to controls (median: 35.7 [IQR: 114.2] μg/g), fecal calprotectin was significantly elevated in PD (median: 95.6 [IQR: 162.1] μg/g, p = 0.003) and even higher in MSA (median: 129.5 [IQR: 373.8] μg/g, p = 0.002). A significant interaction effect with age was observed; between-group differences were significant only in older subjects (i.e., ≥ 61 years) and became more apparent with increasing age. A total of 28.9% of MSA and 18.3% of PD patients had highly abnormal fecal calprotectin levels (≥ 250 μg/g); however, this difference was only significant for MSA compared to controls. Fecal calprotectin correlated moderately with selected blood immune markers in PD, but not with clinical features of PD or MSA.
Conclusions: Elevated fecal calprotectin suggests a role for intestinal inflammation in PD and MSA. A more complete understanding of gut immune alterations could open up new avenues of research and treatment for these debilitating diseases.