Background: Inflammation contributes substantially to the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Plasma extracellular vesicle (EV)-derived cytokines are emerging biomarkers of inflammation. We conducted a longitudinal study of the plasma EV-derived cytokine profiles of people with PD (PwP).

Methods: A total of 101 people with mild to moderate PD and 45 healthy controls (HCs) were recruited, and they completed motor assessments (Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale [UPDRS]) and cognitive tests at baseline and 1-year follow-up. We isolated the participants’ plasma EVs and analyzed their levels of cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β.

Results: We noted no significant changes in the plasma EV-derived cytokine profiles of the PwPs and HCs between baseline and the 1-year follow-up. Among the PwP, changes in plasma EV-derived IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-6 levels were significantly associated with changes in the severity of postural instability and gait disturbance (PIGD) and cognition. Baseline plasma EV-derived IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 levels were significantly associated with the severity of PIGD and cognitive symptoms at follow-up, and PwP with elevated IL-1β and IL-6 levels exhibited significant progression of PIGD over the study period.

Conclusion: These results suggested the role of inflammation in PD progression. In addition, baseline levels of plasma EV-derived proinflammatory cytokines can be used to predict the progression of PIGD, the most severe motor symptom of PD. Additional studies with longer follow-up periods are necessary, and plasma EV-derived cytokines may serve as effective biomarkers of PD progression.