Synucleinopathies are characterized by abnormal alpha-synuclein oligomerization and aggregation. Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are Lewy body diseases where aggregated alpha-synuclein deposits as Lewy bodies. Whereas PD is the most common movement disorder, DLB is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease (AD). DLB also shows an important neuropathological overlap with AD difficulting its clinical diagnosis. Additionally, PD, DLB and AD are characterised by a high grade of heterogeneity, so that PD and DLB are only umbrella terms for groups of diseases showing similar pathological and clinical features. However, they develop as a result of different primary molecular changes during the very first stages of the disease.

The research group’s main goal is to identify these different mechanisms to define different disease subgroups and, with the aim of disentangling this heterogeneity, its main objectives are:

  • Molecular characterization of dementia with Lewy bodies with special focus on genetic variants, differential expression of alternative transcript variants and miRNAs.
  • Identification of diagnostic biomarkers for dementia with Lewy bodies in different peripheral sources including blood, plasma, platelets and saliva.
  • Establishment of cell and possibly also animal models suitable for testing of results.
  • Development of diagnostic panels for the clinical diagnosis of dementias and Parkinson's disease.

The team’s research has a strong translational character, and so, their final aim is to translate research results from post-mortem brain tissue to peripheral tissues. So far, they have identified four biomarkers and have patented all of them. Two are specific for DLB subgroups, whereas the other two may serve as an early diagnostic marker of DLB.

Since neuropathological changes start up to 20 years before clinical symptoms of either PD or DLB become evident, they are currently extending their research to prodromic phases of Lewy body disorders.

Keywords: Lewy body diseases, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, alpha-synuclein, alternative transcripts, platelets, blood biomarkers, saliva biomarkers.

Genomics and Transcriptomics of Synucleinopathies research group

Group Leader

Katrin Beyer(ELIMINAR)

Research lines

Molecular characterisation of Lewy body diseases

Within this research line we focus on the following aspects:  (1) search for genetic variation, comprising the characterization of polynucleotide sequences, such as INDELs, microsatellites and polynucleotide stretches within promoter and intronic regions; (2) expression analysis of genes involved in the pathogenesis of Lewy body disorders, and of alternative splicing including both in-frame splicing and variable promoter usage; (3) analysis of miRNAs expression changes in brain and blood; (4) 3'UTR variation analysis of genes involved in the pathogenesis of Lewy body disorders; (5) functional and integrated analyses to establish which promoter variants (polynucleotides and/or microsatellites) co-regulate transcriptional activity, which intronic variants co-regulate alternative splicing and which 3'UTR variants change miRNA interactions altering posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression.

Genetic testing

Identification and characterisation of diagnostic biomarkers for dementia with Lewy bodies

Within this research line, we aim to translate the findings made in post-mortem brain samples to blood and saliva to identify peripheral diagnostic biomarkers for Lewy body disease to be used in the clinical practice. Our latest data provide a solid basis for the development of genetic biomarkers for the early identification of patients suffering from DLB and to classify them into specific molecular subtypes. One of the biomarkers correlates with the development of Lewy pathology in the brain and may be useful to monitor the success of possible alpha-synuclein antiaggregatory therapies.

Biomarker development

Active projects

Validación de biomarcadores líquidos y de imagen para el diagnóstico de la demencia con cuerpos de Lewy prodrómica

Co-PI: Katrin Beyer
Funding agency: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Agency code: PMP22/00100
Start date: 2023
End date: 2026

The role of platelets as biomarker reservoirs for dementia with Lewy bodies

PI: Katrin Beyer
Funding agency: Ministerio de Salud
Agency code: PI21/00833
Start date: 2022
End date: 2025

Blood miRNAs as diagnostic tool for dementia with Lewy bodies

PI: Katrin Beyer
Funding agency: Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) - Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR)
Agency code: 2021 PROD 00049
Start date: 2022
End date: 2024

Scientific publications

Fernández-Ramos JA, De la Torre-Aguilar MJ, Quintáns B, Pérez-Navero JL, Beyer K, López-Laso E; Spanish Segawa Disease Research group. Genetic landscape of Segawa disease in Spain. Long-term treatment outcomes. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2022 Jan;94:67-78. DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.11.014.

Katrin Beyer’s publications

Additional information

Katrin Beyer received Expertscape's Recognition as an Expert in Lewy bodies (placement by PubMed-based algorithms in the top 1% of scholars writing about Lewy Bodies over the past 10 years) in September 2021.


- Investigación

Nuevos marcadores candidatos para la demencia con cuerpos de Lewy y la de Parkinson en las transcripciones de la proteína SNCA en sangre

El grupo de investigación de Genómica y Transcriptómica de las Sinucleinopatías, liderado por la Dra. Katrin Beyer, ha publicado un nuevo estudio en el Journal of Molecular Science que da un paso más en la búsqueda de un biomarcador fiable para poder diferenciar entre la demencia con cuerpos de Lewy y la enfermedad de Parkinson en los estadios iniciales, cuando los síntomas son muy similares. El diagnóstico correcto es todavía un reto difícil en estos casos, pero es clave para los pacientes ya que un tratamiento equivocado puede tener efectos muy graves.

- Investigación

Tres proyectos de innovación del IGTP reciben una beca CaixaImpulse

Tres grupos de investigación del IGTP han recibido 3 de las 21 becas de la convocatoria 2019 de CaixaImpulse, otorgadas por la Fundación Bancaria 'la Caixa'. Los proyectos becados liderados por la Dra. Katrin Beyer, el Dr. Francesc Borras y la Dra. Alicia Martínez Piñeiro se dedican a mejorar el diagnóstico de la demencia con cuerpos de Lewy, nuevos métodos para el seguimiento de la disfunción renal y la investigación de nuevos marcadores predictivos en el ictus isquémico agudo, respectivamente.

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