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1.  Impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease: recent advances 
Current opinion in neurology  2011;24(4):324-330.
Purpose of review
To review the recent advances in the epidemiology and pathophysiology of impulse control disorders (ICD) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Recent findings
Large cross-sectional and case-control multicentre studies show that ICDs in PD are common with a frequency of 13.6%. These behaviours are associated with impaired functioning and with depressive, anxiety and obsessive symptoms, novelty seeking and impulsivity. Behavioural subtypes demonstrate differences in novelty seeking and impulsivity suggesting pathophysiological differences. Observational and neurophysiological studies point towards a potential mechanistic overlap between the behavioural (ICDs) and motor (dyskinesias) dopaminergic sequelae. Converging data suggest dopamine agonists in ICDs appear to enhance learning from rewarding outcomes and impulsive choice. ICD patients also have enhanced risk preference and impaired working memory. Neuroimaging data points towards enhanced bottom-up ventral striatal dopamine release to incentive cues, gambling tasks and reward prediction, and possibly inhibition of top-down orbitofrontal influences. Dopamine agonist-related ventral striatal hypoactivity to risk is consistent with impaired risk evaluation.
Recent large scale studies and converging findings are beginning to provide an understanding of mechanisms underlying ICDs in PD which can guide prevention of these behaviours and optimize therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3154756  PMID: 21725242
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine agonists; pathological gambling; impulsivity
2.  Ventral Striatal Dopamine Synthesis Capacity Predicts Financial Extravagance in Parkinson’s Disease 
Impulse control disorders (ICDs), including disordered gambling, can occur in a significant number of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) receiving dopaminergic therapy. The neurobiology underlying susceptibility to such problems is unclear, but risk likely results from an interaction between dopaminergic medication and a pre-existing trait vulnerability. Impulse control and addictive disorders form part of a broader psychopathological spectrum of disorders, which share a common underlying genetic vulnerability, referred to as externalizing. The broad externalizing risk factor is a continuously varying trait reflecting vulnerability to various impulse control problems, manifested at the overt level by disinhibitory symptoms and at the personality level by antecedent traits such as impulsivity and novelty/sensation seeking. Trait “disinhibition” is thus a core endophenotype of ICDs, and a key target for neurobiological investigation. The ventral striatal dopamine system has been hypothesized to underlie individual variation in behavioral disinhibition. Here, we examined whether individual differences in ventral striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted individual variation in disinhibitory temperament traits in individuals with PD. Eighteen early-stage male PD patients underwent 6-[18F]Fluoro-l-DOPA (FDOPA) positron emission tomography scanning to measure striatal dopamine synthesis capacity, and completed a measure of disinhibited personality. Consistent with our predictions, we found that levels of ventral, but not dorsal, striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted disinhibited personality, particularly a propensity for financial extravagance. Our results are consistent with recent preclinical models of vulnerability to behavioral disinhibition and addiction proneness, and provide novel insights into the neurobiology of potential vulnerability to impulse control problems in PD and other disorders.
PMCID: PMC3583186  PMID: 23450713
dopa decarboxylase; dopamine; disordered gambling; externalizing; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; reward; ventral striatum
3.  Increased striatal dopamine release in Parkinsonian patients with pathological gambling: a [11C] raclopride PET study 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2009;132(Pt 5):1376-1385.
Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3479148  PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
4.  Prospective Cohort Study of Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease 
Impulse control disorders (ICDs) are potentially serious side effects of dopamine agonist therapy in Parkinson’s disease (PD), but prospective data are lacking about their incidence, time course, and risk factors. This work was a 4-year, prospective cohort study of outpatients with PD and no previous ICDs (N = 164). All subjects treated with a dopamine agonist during the study were followed longitudinally for new-onset ICDs. Baseline characteristics were compared in groups with (ICD+) and without (ICD−) subsequent ICDs. Forty-six subjects were treated with a dopamine agonist, including 25 who were newly treated and 21 who received ongoing dopamine agonist therapy. Of these 46 subjects, 18 (39.1%) developed new-onset ICDs. The timing of ICD onset varied from 3.0 to 114.0 months (median, 23.0) after initiation of dopamine agonist therapy. Baseline demographic characteristics were similar in ICD+ and ICD− groups. At baseline, ICD+ subjects had a greater prevalence of motor complications (61.1% versus 25.0%; P = 0.01) than ICD− subjects, despite comparable total dopaminergic medication usage in both groups (median, 150.0 versus 150.0 levodopa equivalents; P = 0.61). Compared with ICD− subjects, ICD+ subjects had a greater baseline prevalence of caffeine use (100% versus 66.7%; P = 0.007) and higher lifetime prevalence of cigarette smoking (44.4% versus 14.3%; P = 0.04). Peak dopamine agonist doses were higher in ICD+ than ICD− subjects (median 300.0 versus 165.0 L-dopa equivalents; P = 0.03), but cumulative dopamine agonist exposure was similar in both groups. In summary, the timing of new-onset ICDs in PD is highly variable. Risk factors include cigarette smoking, caffeine use, motor complications, and higher peak dopamine agonist dosage.
PMCID: PMC3894820  PMID: 23283708
dopamine agonist; dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome; impulse control disorder; prospective; Parkinson’s disease
5.  Extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities of DA homeostasis in Parkinson’s patients with medication-induced pathological gambling: A [11C] FLB-457 and PET study 
Neurobiology of disease  2012;48(3):519-525.
Impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG) are a serious and common adverse effect of dopamine (DA) replacement medication in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients with PG have increased impulsivity and abnormalities in striatal DA, in common with behavioural and substance addictions in the non-PD population. To date, no studies have investigated the role of extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities in PD patients with PG. We used the PET radiotracer, [11C] FLB-457, with high-affinity for extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors. 14 PD patients on DA agonists were imaged while they performed a gambling task involving real monetary reward and a control task. Trait impulsivity was measured with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Seven of the patients had a history of PG that developed subsequent to DA agonist medication. Change in [11C] FLB-457 binding potential (BP) during gambling was reduced in PD with PG patients in the midbrain, where D2/D3 receptors are dominated by autoreceptors. The degree of change in [11C] FLB-457 binding in this region correlated with impulsivity. In the cortex, [11C] FLB-457 BP was significantly greater in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in PD patients with PG during the control task, and binding in this region was also correlated with impulsivity. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD patients with PG have dysfunctional activation of DA autoreceptors in the midbrain and low DA tone in the ACC. Thus, altered striatal and cortical DA homeostasis may incur vulnerability for the development of PG in PD, linked with the impulsive personality trait.
PMCID: PMC3465363  PMID: 22766031 CAMSID: cams2373
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonists; Pathological gambling; Impulsivity
6.  Impulsive and Compulsive Behaviors in Parkinson’s Disease 
Background: Impulsive and compulsive behaviors (ICBs) are a heterogeneous group of conditions that may be caused by long-term dopaminergic replacement therapy (DRT) of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The spectrum of ICBs includes dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS), punding, and impulse control disorders (ICDs).
Contents: We made a detailed review regarding the epidemiology, pathology, clinical characteristics, risk factors, diagnosis as well as treatment of ICBs.
Results: The prevalence of ICBs in PD patients is approximately 3–4% for DDS, 0.34–4.2% for punding, and 6–14% for ICDs, with higher prevalence in Western populations than in Asian. Those who take high dose of levodopa are more prone to have DDS, whereas, ICDs are markedly associated with dopamine agonists. Different subtypes of ICBs share many risk factors such as male gender, higher levodopa equivalent daily dose, younger age at PD onset, history of alcoholism, impulsive, or novelty-seeking personality. The Questionnaire for Impulsive–Compulsive Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease-Rating Scale seems to be a rather efficacious instrument to obtain relevant information from patients and caregivers. Treatment of ICBs is still a great challenge for clinicians. Readjustment of DRT remains the primary method. Atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, amantadine, and psychosocial interventions are also prescribed in controlling episodes of psychosis caused by compulsive DRT, but attention should be drawn to balance ICBs symptoms and motor disorders. Moreover, deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus might be a potential method in controlling ICBs.
Conclusion: The exact pathophysiological mechanisms of ICBs in PD remains poorly understood. Further researches are needed not only to study the pathogenesis, prevalence, features, and risk factors of ICBs, but to find efficacious therapy for patients with these devastating consequences.
PMCID: PMC4231987  PMID: 25452726
Parkinson disease; impulsive control disorders; dopamine dysregulation syndrome; review; dopaminergic replacement therapy
7.  Maladaptive Reward-Learning and Impulse Control Disorders in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: A Clinical Overview and Pathophysiology Update 
Journal of Movement Disorders  2014;7(2):67-76.
Impulse control disorders (ICD) in Parkinson’s disease (PD) are a disabling non-motor symptom with frequencies of 13–35% among patients receiving dopamine replacement therapy. ICD in PD is strongly associated with dopaminergic drug use, especially non-ergot dopamine agonists (DA). However, individual susceptibility and disease-related neural changes are also important contributors to the development of ICD. Discrepancies between nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopaminergic degeneration and non-physiological administration of dopaminergic drugs may induce abnormal ’hyperstimulation’ of the mesolimbic system, which alters reward-learning behaviors in PD patients. In addition, DA can make patients more impulsive during decision-making and seek risk-taking behaviors. DA intake is also related to the biased representation of rewards. Ultimately, loss of negative feedback control due to dysfunctional frontostriatal connections is necessary for the establishment of ICD in PD. The subsequent behavioral and neural changes are affected by PD treatment and disease progression; thus, proper treatment guidelines for physicians are needed to prevent the development of ICD. Future studies aimed at producing novel therapeutics to control the risk factors for ICD or treat ICD behaviors in PD are warranted. This review summarizes recent advances from epidemiological and pathophysiological studies on ICD in PD. Management principles and limitations of current therapeutics are briefly discussed.
PMCID: PMC4213534  PMID: 25360230
Impulse control disorder; Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonist; Reward-learning; Impulsivity; Addiction
8.  Dopamine agonists and risk: impulse control disorders in Parkinson's; disease 
Brain  2011;134(5):1438-1446.
Impulse control disorders are common in Parkinson's; disease, occurring in 13.6% of patients. Using a pharmacological manipulation and a novel risk taking task while performing functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the relationship between dopamine agonists and risk taking in patients with Parkinson's; disease with and without impulse control disorders. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, subjects chose between two choices of equal expected value: a ‘Sure’ choice and a ‘Gamble’ choice of moderate risk. To commence each trial, in the ‘Gain’ condition, individuals started at $0 and in the ‘Loss’ condition individuals started at −$50 below the ‘Sure’ amount. The difference between the maximum and minimum outcomes from each gamble (i.e. range) was used as an index of risk (‘Gamble Risk’). Sixteen healthy volunteers were behaviourally tested. Fourteen impulse control disorder (problem gambling or compulsive shopping) and 14 matched Parkinson's; disease controls were tested ON and OFF dopamine agonists. Patients with impulse control disorder made more risky choices in the ‘Gain’ relative to the ‘Loss’ condition along with decreased orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate activity, with the opposite observed in Parkinson's; disease controls. In patients with impulse control disorder, dopamine agonists were associated with enhanced sensitivity to risk along with decreased ventral striatal activity again with the opposite in Parkinson's; disease controls. Patients with impulse control disorder appear to have a bias towards risky choices independent of the effect of loss aversion. Dopamine agonists enhance sensitivity to risk in patients with impulse control disorder possibly by impairing risk evaluation in the striatum. Our results provide a potential explanation of why dopamine agonists may lead to an unconscious bias towards risk in susceptible individuals.
PMCID: PMC3097893  PMID: 21596771
Parkinson's; disease; dopamine; gambling; decision making; risk
9.  Striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor binding in pathological gambling is correlated with mood-related impulsivity 
Neuroimage  2012;63(1):40-46.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a behavioural addiction associated with elevated impulsivity and suspected dopamine dysregulation. Reduced striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability has been reported in drug addiction, and may constitute a premorbid vulnerability marker for addictive disorders. The aim of the present study was to assess striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in PG, and its association with trait impulsivity. Males with PG (n = 9) and male healthy controls (n = 9) underwent [11C]-raclopride positron emission tomography imaging and completed the UPPS-P impulsivity scale. There was no significant difference between groups in striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability, in contrast to previous reports in drug addiction. However, mood-related impulsivity (‘Urgency’) was negatively correlated with [11C]-raclopride binding potentials in the PG group. The absence of a group difference in striatal dopamine binding implies a distinction between behavioural addictions and drug addictions. Nevertheless, our data indicate heterogeneity in dopamine receptor availability in disordered gambling, such that individuals with high mood-related impulsivity may show differential benefits from dopamine-based medications.
► Assessed 11C-raclopride binding in pathological gambling, a putative behavioral addiction. ► No group difference in striatal dopamine binding from healthy controls. ► Dopamine binding negatively correlated with mood-related impulsivity (‘Urgency’).
PMCID: PMC3438449  PMID: 22776462
Gambling; Impulsivity; Dopamine; Neuroimaging; Addiction; Striatum
10.  Impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease: decreased striatal dopamine transporter levels 
Impulse control disorders are commonly associated with dopaminergic therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD). PD patients with impulse control disorders demonstrate enhanced dopamine release to conditioned cues and a gambling task on [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and enhanced ventral striatal activity to reward on functional MRI. We compared PD patients with impulse control disorders and age-matched and gender-matched controls without impulse control disorders using [123I]FP-CIT (2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)tropane) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), to assess striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density.
The [123I]FP-CIT binding data in the striatum were compared between 15 PD patients with and 15 without impulse control disorders using independent t tests.
Those with impulse control disorders showed significantly lower DAT binding in the right striatum with a trend in the left (right: F(1,24)=5.93, p=0.02; left: F(1,24)=3.75, p=0.07) compared to controls.
Our findings suggest that greater dopaminergic striatal activity in PD patients with impulse control disorders may be partly related to decreased uptake and clearance of dopamine from the synaptic cleft. Whether these findings are related to state or trait effects is not known. These findings dovetail with reports of lower DAT levels secondary to the effects of methamphetamine and alcohol. Although any regulation of DAT by antiparkinsonian medication appears to be modest, PD patients with impulse control disorders may be differentially sensitive to regulatory mechanisms of DAT expression by dopaminergic medications.
PMCID: PMC4031642  PMID: 23899625
11.  Dopaminergic function and intertemporal choice 
Translational Psychiatry  2015;5(1):e491-.
The discounting of delayed rewards, also known as temporal or delay discounting, is intrinsic to everyday decisions and can be impaired in pathological states such as addiction disorders. Preclinical and human studies suggest a role for dopaminergic function in temporal discounting but this relationship has not yet been verified using molecular imaging of the living human brain. Here, we evaluated dopaminergic function in temporal discounting using positron emission tomography (PET) with two different dopaminergic ligands assessing three populations in whom temporal discounting has been shown to be impaired. First, we show using [11C]raclopride PET that in pathological gamblers, greater temporal discounting correlates with decreased ventral striatal binding potential, convergent with translational findings of lower nucleus accumbens D2/D3 receptor density in high-impulsive rodents. Temporal discounting also correlates with lower ventral striatal dopamine release in response to high-reward magnitude suggesting that dopamine-mediated devaluation of larger delayed rewards may drive choice preferences. Second, we show using [18F]fluorodopa PET that in Parkinson's disease, temporal discounting correlates with greater left caudate dopaminergic terminal function. Finally, in subjects with Parkinson's disease and dopamine medication-induced behavioral addictions, temporal discounting is further correlated with greater dopaminergic terminal function in the anterior putamen. These findings provide insights into the relationship between striatal dopamine function and temporal discounting, and its potential role in pathological disorders and mechanisms underlying treatment interventions.
PMCID: PMC4312827  PMID: 25562841
12.  Parkinson’s disease in GTP cyclohydrolase 1 mutation carriers 
Brain  2014;137(9):2480-2492.
Mutations in the gene encoding the dopamine-synthetic enzyme GTP cyclohydrolase-1 (GCH1) cause DOPA-responsive dystonia (DRD). Mencacci et al. demonstrate that GCH1 variants are associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease in both DRD pedigrees and in patients with Parkinson's disease but without a family history of DRD.
GTP cyclohydrolase 1, encoded by the GCH1 gene, is an essential enzyme for dopamine production in nigrostriatal cells. Loss-of-function mutations in GCH1 result in severe reduction of dopamine synthesis in nigrostriatal cells and are the most common cause of DOPA-responsive dystonia, a rare disease that classically presents in childhood with generalized dystonia and a dramatic long-lasting response to levodopa. We describe clinical, genetic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic imaging ([123I]N-ω-fluoropropyl-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl) tropane single photon computed tomography) findings of four unrelated pedigrees with DOPA-responsive dystonia in which pathogenic GCH1 variants were identified in family members with adult-onset parkinsonism. Dopamine transporter imaging was abnormal in all parkinsonian patients, indicating Parkinson’s disease-like nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation. We subsequently explored the possibility that pathogenic GCH1 variants could contribute to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, even in the absence of a family history for DOPA-responsive dystonia. The frequency of GCH1 variants was evaluated in whole-exome sequencing data of 1318 cases with Parkinson’s disease and 5935 control subjects. Combining cases and controls, we identified a total of 11 different heterozygous GCH1 variants, all at low frequency. This list includes four pathogenic variants previously associated with DOPA-responsive dystonia (Q110X, V204I, K224R and M230I) and seven of undetermined clinical relevance (Q110E, T112A, A120S, D134G, I154V, R198Q and G217V). The frequency of GCH1 variants was significantly higher (Fisher’s exact test P-value 0.0001) in cases (10/1318 = 0.75%) than in controls (6/5935 = 0.1%; odds ratio 7.5; 95% confidence interval 2.4–25.3). Our results show that rare GCH1 variants are associated with an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. These findings expand the clinical and biological relevance of GTP cycloydrolase 1 deficiency, suggesting that it not only leads to biochemical striatal dopamine depletion and DOPA-responsive dystonia, but also predisposes to nigrostriatal cell loss. Further insight into GCH1-associated pathogenetic mechanisms will shed light on the role of dopamine metabolism in nigral degeneration and Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4132650  PMID: 24993959
GCH1; DOPA-responsive-dystonia; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; exome sequencing
13.  Homeostatic mechanisms in dopamine synthesis and release: a mathematical model 
Dopamine is a catecholamine that is used as a neurotransmitter both in the periphery and in the central nervous system. Dysfunction in various dopaminergic systems is known to be associated with various disorders, including schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Tourette's syndrome. Furthermore, microdialysis studies have shown that addictive drugs increase extracellular dopamine and brain imaging has shown a correlation between euphoria and psycho-stimulant-induced increases in extracellular dopamine [1]. These consequences of dopamine dysfunction indicate the importance of maintaining dopamine functionality through homeostatic mechanisms that have been attributed to the delicate balance between synthesis, storage, release, metabolism, and reuptake.
We construct a mathematical model of dopamine synthesis, release, and reuptake and use it to study homeostasis in single dopaminergic neuron terminals. We investigate the substrate inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase by tyrosine, the consequences of the rapid uptake of extracellular dopamine by the dopamine transporters, and the effects of the autoreceoptors on dopaminergic function. The main focus is to understand the regulation and control of synthesis and release and to explicate and interpret experimental findings.
We show that the substrate inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase by tyrosine stabilizes cytosolic and vesicular dopamine against changes in tyrosine availability due to meals. We find that the autoreceptors dampen the fluctuations in extracellular dopamine caused by changes in tyrosine hydroxylase expression and changes in the rate of firing. We show that short bursts of action potentials create significant dopamine signals against the background of tonic firing. We explain the observed time courses of extracellular dopamine responses to stimulation in wild type mice and mice that have genetically altered dopamine transporter densities and the observed half-lives of extracellular dopamine under various treatment protocols.
Dopaminergic systems must respond robustly to important biological signals such as bursts, while at the same time maintaining homeostasis in the face of normal biological fluctuations in inputs, expression levels, and firing rates. This is accomplished through the cooperative effect of many different homeostatic mechanisms including special properties of tyrosine hydroxylase, the dopamine transporters, and the dopamine autoreceptors.
PMCID: PMC2755466  PMID: 19740446
14.  Dopamine Agonist Use is Associated with Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease 
Archives of neurology  2006;63(7):969-973.
To determine the frequency and correlates of impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
An unstructured screening interview for ICDs (compulsive gambling, buying, and sexual behavior) followed by a telephone-administered structured interview for screen-positive patients.
Two university-affiliated movement disorders centers.
A convenience sample of 272 patients with idiopathic PD who were screened for psychiatric complications.
Main Outcome Measures
Presence of compulsive gambling, buying, or sexual behavior as assessed by the Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview.
Eighteen (6.6%) PD patients met criteria for an ICD at some point during the course of PD, including 11 (4.0%) with an active ICD. Compulsive gambling and compulsive sexual behavior were equally common. In a multivariate model, treatment with a dopamine agonist (P = .01) and a history of ICD symptomatology prior to PD onset (P = .02) predicted current ICD. There were no differences between the dopamine agonists in their association with ICDs (P = .21), and daily doses of dopamine agonists were higher in patients with an ICD than in dopamine agonist-treated patients without an ICD (P < .001).
PD patients treated with a dopamine agonist should be made aware of the risk of developing an ICD and monitored clinically. As dopamine agonists are increasing being used for other indications, future research should assess the dopamine agonist-associated risk for ICDs in other populations.
PMCID: PMC1761054  PMID: 16831966
15.  Deletion of alpha-synuclein decreases impulsivity in mice 
Genes, Brain, and Behavior  2011;11(2):137-146.
The presynaptic protein alpha-synuclein, associated with Parkinson's Disease (PD), plays a role in dopaminergic neurotransmission and is implicated in impulse control disorders (ICDs) such as drug addiction. In this study we investigated a potential causal relationship between alpha-synuclein and impulsivity, by evaluating differences in motor impulsivity in the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) in strains of mice that differ in the expression of the alpha-synuclein gene. C57BL/6JOlaHsd mice differ from their C57BL/6J ancestors in possessing a chromosomal deletion resulting in the loss of two genes, snca, encoding alpha-synuclein, and mmrn1, encoding multimerin-1. C57BL/6J mice displayed higher impulsivity (more premature responding) than C57BL/6JOlaHsd mice when the pre-stimulus waiting interval was increased in the 5-CSRTT. In order to ensure that the reduced impulsivity was indeed related to snca, and not adjacent gene deletion, wild type (WT) and mice with targeted deletion of alpha-synuclein (KO) were tested in the 5-CSRTT. Similarly, WT mice were more impulsive than mice with targeted deletion of alpha-synuclein. Interrogation of our ongoing analysis of impulsivity in BXD recombinant inbred mouse lines revealed an association of impulsive responding with levels of alpha-synuclein expression in hippocampus. Expression of beta- and gamma-synuclein, members of the synuclein family that may substitute for alpha-synuclein following its deletion, revealed no differential compensations among the mouse strains. These findings suggest that alpha-synuclein may contribute to impulsivity and potentially, to ICDs which arise in some PD patients treated with dopaminergic medication.
PMCID: PMC3380554  PMID: 22142176
Alpha-synuclein; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; Parkinson's disease
16.  Impulse control disorders and compulsive behaviors associated with dopaminergic therapies in Parkinson disease 
Neurology. Clinical Practice  2012;2(4):267-274.
Impulse control disorders (ICD) (most commonly pathologic gambling, hypersexuality, and uncontrollable spending) and compulsive behaviors can be triggered by dopaminergic therapies in Parkinson disease (PD). ICD are especially prevalent in patients receiving a dopamine agonist as part of their treatment regimen for PD, and have also been reported when dopamine agonists are used for other indications (e.g., restless legs syndrome). Although these iatrogenic disorders are common, affecting 1 in 7 patients with PD on dopamine agonists, they often elude detection by the treating physician. ICD lead to serious consequences, causing significant financial loss and psychosocial morbidity for many patients and families. ICD can appear at any time during treatment with dopamine agonists, sometimes within the first few months, but most often after years of treatment, particularly when patients receive dopamine agonists and levodopa together. In most cases ICD resolve if the dopamine agonist is withdrawn, and PD motor symptoms are managed with levodopa monotherapy. Familiarity with the clinical aspects, risk factors, pathophysiology, and management of ICD is essential for physicians using dopaminergic therapies to treat PD and other disorders.
PMCID: PMC3613210  PMID: 23634371
17.  The Risky Business of Dopamine Agonists in Parkinson Disease and Impulse Control Disorders 
Behavioral neuroscience  2011;125(4):492-500.
Risk-taking behavior is characterized by pursuit of reward in spite of potential negative consequences. Dopamine neurotransmission along the mesocorticolimbic pathway is a potential modulator of risk behavior. In patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD), impulse control disorder (ICD) can result from dopaminergic medication use, particularly Dopamine Agonists (DAA). Behaviors associated with ICD include hypersexuality as well as compulsive gambling, shopping, and eating, and are potentially linked to alterations to risk processing. Using the Balloon Analogue Risk task, we assessed the role of agonist therapy on risk-taking behavior in PD patients with (n=22) and without (n=19) active ICD symptoms. Patients performed the task both ‘on’ and ‘off’ DAA. DAA increased risk-taking in PD patients with active ICD symptoms, but did not affect risk behavior of PD controls. DAA dose was also important in explaining risk behavior. Both groups similarly reduced their risk-taking in high compared to low risk conditions and following the occurrence of a negative consequence, suggesting that ICD patients do not necessarily differ in their ability to process and adjust to some aspects of negative consequences. Our findings suggest dopaminergic augmentation of risk-taking behavior as a potential contributing mechanism for the emergence of ICD in PD patients.
PMCID: PMC3144294  PMID: 21604834
Impulse Control Disorders; Dopamine Agonists; Parkinson Disease; Risk behavior
18.  Impulsivity and apathy in Parkinson’s disease 
Journal of neuropsychology  2013;7(2):10.1111/jnp.12013.
Impulse control disorders (ICDs) and apathy are recognized as two important neuropsychiatric syndromes associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), but as yet we understand very little about the cognitive mechanisms underlying them. Here, we review emerging findings, from both human and animal studies, that suggest that impulsivity and apathy are opposite extremes of a dopamine-dependent spectrum of motivated decision making. We first argue that there is strong support for a hypodopaminergic state in PD patients with apathy, as well as for an association between dopamine therapy and development of ICDs. However, there is little evidence for a clear dose-response relationship, and great heterogeneity of findings. We argue that dopaminergic state on its own is an insufficient explanation, and suggest instead that there is now substantial evidence that both apathy and impulsivity are in fact multi-dimensional syndromes, with separate, dissociable mechanisms underlying their ‘surface’ manifestations. Some of these mechanisms might be dopamine-dependent. According to this view, individuals diagnosed as impulsive or apathetic may have very different mechanisms underlying their clinical states. We propose that impulsivity and apathy can arise from dissociable deficits in option generation, option selection, action initiation or inhibition and learning. Review of the behavioural and neurobiological evidence leads us to a new conceptual framework that might help understand the variety of functional deficits seen in PD.
PMCID: PMC3836240  PMID: 23621377
19.  Dopamine and Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease 
Annals of neurology  2008;64(Suppl 2):S93-100.
There is an increasing awareness that impulse control disorders (ICDs), including compulsive gambling, buying, sexual behavior, and eating, can occur as a complication of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In addition, other impulsive or compulsive disorders have been reported to occur, including dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS) and punding. Case reporting and prospective studies have reported an association between ICDs and the use of dopamine agonists (DAs), particularly at greater dosages, whereas dopamine dysregulation syndrome has been associated with greater dosages of levodopa or short-acting DAs. Data suggest that risk factors for an ICD may include male sex, younger age or younger age at PD onset, a pre-PD history of ICD symptoms, personal or family history of substance abuse or bipolar disorder, and a personality style characterized by impulsiveness. Although psychiatric medications are used clinically in the treatment of ICDs, there is no empiric evidence supporting their use in PD. Therefore, management for clinically significant ICD symptoms should consist of modifications to dopamine replacement therapy, particularly DAs, and there is emerging evidence that such management is associated with an overall improvement in ICD symptomatology. It is important that PD patients be aware that DA use may lead to the development of an ICD, and that clinicians monitor patients as part of routine clinical care. As empirically validated treatments for ICDs are emerging, it will be important to examine their efficacy and tolerability in individuals with cooccurring PD and ICDs.
PMCID: PMC3530139  PMID: 19127573
20.  Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and reward deficiency syndrome 
Molecular genetic studies have identified several genes that may mediate susceptibility to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A consensus of the literature suggests that when there is a dysfunction in the “brain reward cascade,” especially in the dopamine system, causing a low or hypo-dopaminergic trait, the brain may require dopamine for individuals to avoid unpleasant feelings. This high-risk genetic trait leads to multiple drug-seeking behaviors, because the drugs activate release of dopamine, which can diminish abnormal cravings. Moreover, this genetic trait is due in part to a form of a gene (DRD2 A1 allele) that prevents the expression of the normal laying down of dopamine receptors in brain reward sites. This gene, and others involved in neurophysiological processing of specific neurotransmitters, have been associated with deficient functions and predispose individuals to have a high risk for addictive, impulsive, and compulsive behavioral propensities. It has been proposed that genetic variants of dopaminergic genes and other “reward genes” are important common determinants of reward deficiency syndrome (RDS), which we hypothesize includes ADHD as a behavioral subtype. We further hypothesize that early diagnosis through genetic polymorphic identification in combination with DNA-based customized nutraceutical administration to young children may attenuate behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD. Moreover, it is concluded that dopamine and serotonin releasers might be useful therapeutic adjuncts for the treatment of other RDS behavioral subtypes, including addictions.
PMCID: PMC2626918  PMID: 19183781
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); genes; reward dependence; reward deficiency syndrome; treatment; neuropsychological deficits
21.  Selective serotonin reuptake inhibition modulates response inhibition in Parkinson’s disease 
Brain  2014;137(4):1145-1155.
Impulsivity is common in Parkinson’s disease. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with multi-modal imaging, Ye et al. reveal improved response inhibition in some patients receiving the SSRI citalopram, including those with advanced disease. Improvements correlated with preserved frontostriatal structural connectivity and drug-induced prefrontal activity, highlighting the need for patient stratification in trials.
Impulsivity is common in Parkinson’s disease even in the absence of impulse control disorders. It is likely to be multifactorial, including a dopaminergic ‘overdose’ and structural changes in the frontostriatal circuits for motor control. In addition, we proposed that changes in serotonergic projections to the forebrain also contribute to response inhibition in Parkinson’s disease, based on preclinical animal and human studies. We therefore examined whether the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram improves response inhibition, in terms of both behaviour and the efficiency of underlying neural mechanisms. This multimodal magnetic resonance imaging study used a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover design with an integrated Stop-Signal and NoGo paradigm. Twenty-one patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (46–76 years old, 11 male, Hoehn and Yahr stage 1.5–3) received 30 mg citalopram or placebo in addition to their usual dopaminergic medication in two separate sessions. Twenty matched healthy control subjects (54–74 years old, 12 male) were tested without medication. The effects of disease and drug on behavioural performance and regional brain activity were analysed using general linear models. In addition, anatomical connectivity was examined using diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics. We confirmed that Parkinson’s disease caused impairment in response inhibition, with longer Stop-Signal Reaction Time and more NoGo errors under placebo compared with controls, without affecting Go reaction times. This was associated with less stop-specific activation in the right inferior frontal cortex, but no significant difference in NoGo-related activation. Although there was no beneficial main effect of citalopram, it reduced Stop-Signal Reaction Time and NoGo errors, and enhanced inferior frontal activation, in patients with relatively more severe disease (higher Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor score). The behavioural effect correlated with the citalopram-induced enhancement of prefrontal activation and the strength of preserved structural connectivity between the frontal and striatal regions. In conclusion, the behavioural effect of citalopram on response inhibition depends on individual differences in prefrontal cortical activation and frontostriatal connectivity. The correlation between disease severity and the effect of citalopram on response inhibition may be due to the progressive loss of forebrain serotonergic projections. These results contribute to a broader understanding of the critical roles of serotonin in regulating cognitive and behavioural control, as well as new strategies for patient stratification in clinical trials of serotonergic treatments in Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3959561  PMID: 24578545
Parkinson’s disease; response inhibition; serotonin; citalopram; functional MRI
22.  Impulsive choice and response in dopamine agonist-related impulse control behaviors 
Psychopharmacology  2009;207(4):645-659.
Dopaminergic medication-related Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs) such as pathological gambling and compulsive shopping have been reported in Parkinson disease (PD).
We hypothesized that dopamine agonists (DAs) would be associated with greater impulsive choice, or greater discounting of delayed rewards, in PD patients with ICDs (PDI).
Fourteen PDI patients, 14 PD controls without ICDs and 16 medication-free matched normal controls were tested on (i) the Experiential Discounting Task (EDT), a feedback-based intertemporal choice task, (ii) spatial working memory and (iii) attentional set shifting. The EDT was used to assess impulsivity choice (hyperbolic K-value), reaction time (RT) and decision conflict RT (the RT difference between high conflict and low conflict choices). PDI patients and PD controls were tested on and off DA.
On the EDT, there was a group by medication interaction effect [F(1,26)=5.62; p=0.03] with pairwise analyses demonstrating that DA status was associated with increased impulsive choice in PDI patients (p=0.02) but not in PD controls (p=0.37). PDI patients also had faster RT compared to PD controls F(1,26)=7.51 p=0.01]. DA status was associated with shorter RT [F(3,24)=8.39, p=0.001] and decision conflict RT [F(1,26)=6.16, p=0.02] in PDI patients but not in PD controls. There were no correlations between different measures of impulsivity. PDI patients on DA had greater spatial working memory impairments compared to PD controls on DA (t=2.13, df=26, p=0.04).
Greater impulsive choice, faster RT, faster decision conflict RT and executive dysfunction may contribute to ICDs in PD.
PMCID: PMC3676926  PMID: 19838863
dopamine agonist; gambling; impulse control; Parkinson disease; delay discounting
23.  Diagnosis and treatment of impulse control disorders in patients with movement disorders 
Impulse control disorders are a psychiatric condition characterized by the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. In movement disorders, impulse control disorders are associated with dopaminergic treatment, notably dopamine agonists (DAs). Impulse control disorders have been studied extensively in Parkinson’s disease, but are also recognized in restless leg syndrome and atypical Parkinsonian syndromes. Epidemiological studies suggest younger age, male sex, greater novelty seeking, impulsivity, depression and premorbid impulse control disorders as the most consistent risk factors. Such patients may warrant special monitoring after starting treatment with a DA. Various individual screening tools are available for people without Parkinson’s disease. The Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease has been developed specifically for Parkinson’s disease. The best treatment for impulse control disorders is prevention. However, after the development of impulse control disorders, the mainstay intervention is to reduce or discontinue the offending anti-Parkinsonian medication. In refractory cases, other pharmacological interventions are available, including neuroleptics, antiepileptics, amantadine, antiandrogens, lithium and opioid antagonists. Unfortunately, their use is only supported by case reports, small case series or open-label clinical studies. Prospective, controlled studies are warranted. Ongoing investigations include naltrexone and nicotine.
PMCID: PMC3625015  PMID: 23634190
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; restless leg syndrome; parkinsonism; dopamine agonist; non-motor complication; neurobehavioural
24.  Pathological gambling from dopamine agonist and deep brain stimulation of the nucleus tegmenti pedunculopontine 
BMJ Case Reports  2010;2010:bcr0220102774.
In patients with Parkinson's disease, aberrant or excessive dopaminergic stimulation is commonly indicated as the trigger factor in unmasking impulse control disorders (ICDs) such as pathological gambling. We had the opportunity to follow a patient who experienced Parkinson's disease 7 years ago when he was using pramipexole and again, recently, when he was treated with levodopa (L-dopa) and low frequency stimulation of the nucleus of the pedunculopontine tegmentus (PPTg) but no dopamine agonists. The same patient had shown, when studied with fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography in the condition PPTg-ON, a peculiar increased activity in the left ventral striatum. This case report confirms that, in a predisposed personality, ICD may arise from the perturbation of endogenous pathways, which connect the brainstem to the basal ganglia.
PMCID: PMC3027559  PMID: 22798481
25.  Effects of STN and GPi Deep Brain Stimulation on Impulse Control Disorders and Dopamine Dysregulation Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29768.
Impulse control disorders (ICDs) and dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS) are important behavioral problems that affect a subpopulation of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and typically result in markedly diminished quality of life for patients and their caregivers. We aimed to investigate the effects of subthalamic nucleus (STN) and internal globus pallidus (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) on ICD/DDS frequency and dopaminergic medication usage.
A retrospective chart review was performed on 159 individuals who underwent unilateral or bilateral PD DBS surgery in either STN or GPi. According to published criteria, pre- and post-operative records were reviewed to categorize patients both pre- and post-operatively as having ICD, DDS, both ICD and DDS, or neither ICD nor DDS. Group differences in patient demographics, clinical presentations, levodopa equivalent dose (LED), and change in diagnosis following unilateral/bilateral by brain target (STN or GPi DBS placement) were examined.
28 patients met diagnostic criteria for ICD or DDS pre- or post-operatively. ICD or DDS classification did not differ by GPi or STN target stimulation. There was no change in DDS diagnosis after unilateral or bilateral stimulation. For ICD, diagnosis resolved in 2 of 7 individuals after unilateral or bilateral DBS. Post-operative development of these syndromes was significant; 17 patients developed ICD diagnoses post-operatively with 2 patients with pre-operative ICD developing DDS post-operatively.
Unilateral or bilateral DBS did not significantly treat DDS or ICD in our sample, even though a few cases of ICD resolved post-operatively. Rather, our study provides preliminary evidence that DDS and ICD diagnoses may emerge following DBS surgery.
PMCID: PMC3266249  PMID: 22295068

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