Background: Genetic mutations in beta-glucocerebrosidase (GBA) represent the major genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). GBA participates in both the endo-lysosomal pathway and the immune response, two important mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of PD. However, modifiers of GBA penetrance have not yet been fully elucidated. Methods: We characterized the transcriptomic profiles of circulating monocytes in a population of patients with PD and healthy controls (CTRL) with and without GBA variants (n = 23 PD/GBA, 13 CTRL/GBA, 56 PD, 66 CTRL) and whole blood (n = 616 PD, 362 CTRL, 127 PD/GBA, 165 CTRL/GBA). Differential expression analysis, pathway enrichment analysis, and outlier detection were performed. Ultrastructural characterization of isolated CD14+ monocytes in the four groups was also performed through electron microscopy. Results: We observed hundreds of differentially expressed genes and dysregulated pathways when comparing manifesting and non-manifesting GBA mutation carriers. Specifically, when compared to idiopathic PD, PD/GBA showed dysregulation in genes involved in alpha-synuclein degradation, aging and amyloid processing. Gene-based outlier analysis confirmed the involvement of lysosomal, membrane trafficking, and mitochondrial processing in manifesting compared to non-manifesting GBA-carriers, as also observed at the ultrastructural levels. Transcriptomic results were only partially replicated in an independent cohort of whole blood samples, suggesting cell-type specific changes. Conclusions: Overall, our transcriptomic analysis of primary monocytes identified gene targets and biological processes that can help in understanding the pathogenic mechanisms associated with GBA mutations in the context of PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number52
JournalMolecular Neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • GBA
  • Monocytes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Transcriptomic analysis
  • beta-glucocerebrosidase


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