We recently found a higher rate of prolonged amphetamine exposure in patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) than in spouse/caregiver controls. Since distinguishing features have been described in some patients with parkinsonism due to environment exposures (e.g. manganese), we sought to compare the clinical features of PD patients with prolonged amphetamine exposure with unexposed PD patients. Prolonged exposure was defined as a minimum of twice a week for ≥ 3 months, or weekly use ≥ 1 year. We reviewed the clinical records of patients with PD who had participated in a telephone survey of drug and environmental exposures and compared the clinical features of patients with a history of prolonged amphetamine exposure to patients who had no such exposure. Records were available for 16 of 17 (94%) patients with prior amphetamine exposure and 127 of 137 (92%) of those unexposed. Age at diagnosis was younger in the amphetamine-exposed group (49.8 ± 8.2 years vs. 53.1 ±7.4 years; p < 0.05), but other features, including presenting symptoms, initial and later treatments, development of motor fluctuations, and MRI findings were similar between these groups. Because we did not detect clinical features that differentiate parkinsonism in patients with prolonged amphetamine exposure, research to determine whether amphetamine exposure is a risk factor for parkinsonism will require detailed histories of medication and recreational drug use.
Keywords: neurotoxin, selective vulnerability, neurotoxicant