Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an essential neurotrophin, responsible for neuronal development, function, and survival. Assessments of peripheral blood BDNF in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) previously yielded inconsistent results. Plasma exosomes can carry BDNF, so this study investigated the role of plasma exosomal BDNF level as a biomarker of PD. A total of 114 patients with mild to moderate PD and 42 non-PD controls were recruited, and their clinical presentations were evaluated. Plasma exosomes were isolated with exoEasy Maxi Kits, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to assess plasma exosomal BDNF levels. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 19.0, and findings were considered significant at p < 0.05. The analysis revealed no significant differences in plasma exosomal BDNF levels between patients with PD and controls. Patients with PD with low plasma exosomal BDNF levels (in the lowest quartile) exhibited a significant association with daily activity dysfunction but not with cognition/mood or overall motor symptoms as assessed using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Investigation of UPDRS part III subitems revealed that low plasma exosomal BDNF level was significantly associated with increased motor severity of postural instability and gait disturbance (PIGD)-associated symptoms (rising from a chair, gait, and postural stability) after adjustment for age and sex. In conclusion, although plasma exosomal BDNF level could not distinguish patients with PD from controls, the association with PIGD symptoms in patients with PD may indicate its potential role as a biomarker. Follow-up studies should investigate the association between plasma exosomal BDNF levels and changes in clinical symptoms.
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