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Parkinson disease (PD) is no longer considered a complex motor disorder but rather a systemic disease with variable nonmotor deficits that may include impaired olfaction, depression, mood and sleep disorders, and altered cortical function. Increasing evidence indicates that multiple metabolic defects occur in regions outside the substantia nigra, including the cerebral cortex, even at premotor stages of the disease. We investigated changes in gene expression in the frontal cortex in PD patient brains using a transcriptomics approach. Functional genomics analysis indicated that cortical olfactory receptors (ORs) and taste receptors (TASRs) are altered in PD patients. Olfactory receptors OR2L13, OR1E1, OR2J3, OR52L1, and OR11H1 and taste receptors TAS2R5 and TAS2R50 were downregulated, but TAS2R10 and TAS2R13 were upregulated at premotor and parkinsonian stages in the frontal cortex area 8 in PD patient brains. Furthermore, we present novel evidence that, in addition to the ORs, obligate downstream components of OR function adenylyl cyclase 3 and olfactory G protein (Gαolf), OR transporters, receptor transporter proteins 1 and 2 and receptor expression enhancing protein 1, and OR xenobiotic removing UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1 family polypeptide A6 are widely expressed in neurons of the cerebral cortex and other regions of the adult human brain. Together, these findings support the concept that ORs and TASRs in the cerebral cortex may have novel physiologic functions that are affected in PD patients.


Paula Garcia-Esparcia, Agatha Schlüter, Margarita Carmona, Jesús Moreno, Belen Ansoleaga, Benjamín Torrejón-Escribano, Stefano Gustincich, Aurora Pujol, Isidre Ferrer. Functional genomics reveals dysregulation of cortical olfactory receptors in Parkinson disease: novel putative chemoreceptors in the human brain. Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology. 2013 Jun;72(6):524-39

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PMID: 23656994

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