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1.  Prospective longitudinal course of cognition in older subjects with mild parkinsonian signs 
Mild parkinsonian signs (MPS) are common in older people and are associated with an increased risk of different neurodegenerative diseases. This study prospectively evaluates the longitudinal course of cognitive performance in older individuals with MPS.
From the TREND study, 480 individuals neurologically healthy at baseline, aged between 50 and 80 years, with complete follow-up data for three assessments within a mean of 43.8 months, were included in this analysis. Participants underwent a detailed cognitive test battery, evaluation of prodromal markers for neurodegenerative diseases and history of vascular diseases at each study visit. In addition, plasma levels of amyloid-beta (Aβ)1–40 and Aβ1–42 were evaluated longitudinally.
In 52 (11 %) of the 480 participants, MPS could be detected at baseline. These individuals had cognitive deficits significantly more often compared with controls at each time point and their cognitive performance showed a steeper decline during follow-up. In addition, their levels of plasma Aβ1–42 were significantly lower than those of controls, and declined more rapidly over time.
This longitudinal study shows that MPS are associated with cognitive decline and decrease in plasma Aβ1–42, possibly indicating an ongoing neurodegenerative process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13195-016-0209-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5057460  PMID: 27724983
Amyloid-beta; Dementia; Prospective; Longitudinal; Cohort study
2.  Arm Swing as a Potential New Prodromal Marker of Parkinson’s Disease 
Reduced arm swing is a well-known clinical feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD), often observed early in the course of the disease. We hypothesized that subtle changes in arm swing and axial rotation may also be detectable in the prodromal phase.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the LRRK2-G2019S mutation, arm swing, and axial rotation in healthy nonmanifesting carriers and noncarriers of the G2019S mutation and in patients with PD.
A total of 380 participants (186 healthy nonmanifesting controls and 194 PD patients) from 6 clinical sites underwent gait analysis while wearing synchronized 3-axis body-fixed sensors on the lower back and bilateral wrists. Participants walked for 1 minute under the following 2 conditions: (1) usual walking and (2) dual-task walking. Arm swing amplitudes, asymmetry, variability, and smoothness were calculated for both arms along with measures of axial rotation.
A total of 122 nonmanifesting participants and 67 PD patients were carriers of the G2019S mutation. Nonmanifesting mutation carriers walked with greater arm swing asymmetry and variability and lower axial rotation smoothness under the dual task condition when compared with noncarriers (P < .04). In the nonmanifesting mutation carriers, arm swing asymmetry was associated with gait variability under dual task (P = .003). PD carriers showed greater asymmetry and variability of movement than PD noncarriers, even after controlling for disease severity (P < .009).
The G2019S mutation is associated with increased asymmetry and variability among nonmanifesting participants and patients with PD. Prospective studies should determine if arm swing asymmetry and axial rotation smoothness may be used as motor markers of prodromal PD.
PMCID: PMC5053872  PMID: 27430880
arm swing; gait; LRRK2; G2019S; Parkinson’s disease
3.  In-vivo evidence that high mobility group box 1 exerts deleterious effects in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine model and Parkinson's disease which can be attenuated by glycyrrhizin 
Neurobiology of Disease  2016;91:59-68.
High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear and cytosolic protein that is released during tissue damage from immune and non-immune cells — including microglia and neurons. HMGB1 can contribute to progression of numerous chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases which is mediated in part by interaction with the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE). There is increasing evidence from in vitro studies that HMGB1 may link the two main pathophysiological components of Parkinson's disease (PD), i.e. progressive dopaminergic degeneration and chronic neuroinflammation which underlie the mechanistic basis of PD progression.
Analysis of tissue and biofluid samples from PD patients, showed increased HMGB1 levels in human postmortem substantia nigra specimens as well as in the cerebrospinal fluid and serum of PD patients. In a mouse model of PD induced by sub-acute administration of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), systemic administration of neutralizing antibodies to HMGB1 partly inhibited the dopaminergic cell death, and reduced the increase of RAGE and tumour necrosis factor-alpha. The small natural molecule glycyrrhizin, a component from liquorice root which can directly bind to HMGB1, both suppressed MPTP-induced HMGB1 and RAGE upregulation while reducing MPTP-induced dopaminergic cell death in a dose dependent manner.
These results provide first in vivo evidence that HMGB1 serves as a powerful bridge between progressive dopaminergic neurodegeneration and chronic neuroinflammation in a model of PD, suggesting that HMGB1 is a suitable target for neuroprotective trials in PD.
•HMGB1 is up-regulated in Parkinson's disease.•HMGB1 is translocalized into the cytoplasm after MPTP.•Inhibition of HMGB1 protects against MPTP-toxicity.•Translocalization of HMGB1 is reduced after inhibition a neutralizing antibody or glycyrrhizin.
PMCID: PMC4867789  PMID: 26921471
COX, cyclooxygenase; CSF, Cerebrospinal fluid; DOPAC, 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic acid; GFAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein; H&Y, Hoehn & Yahr; HMGB1, high-mobility group box 1; HVA, homovanillic acid; MPP+,  1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium; MPTP, 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine; OD, optical density; PD, Parkinson's disease; RAGE, receptor for advanced glycation endproducts; SNpc, substantia nigra pars compacta; TH, tyrosine-hydroxylase; TNF-α, tumour necrosis factor-alpha; Wt, wild type; Parkinson's disease; MPTP; High-mobility group box 1; receptor for advanced glycation endproducts
4.  Inflammatory profile in LRRK2-associated prodromal and clinical PD 
There is evidence for a relevant role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Mutations in the LRRK2 gene represent the most frequent genetic cause for autosomal dominant PD. LRRK2 is highly expressed in macrophages and microglia suggesting an involvement in inflammatory pathways. The objectives are to test (1) whether idiopathic PD and LRRK2-associated PD share common inflammatory pathways or present distinct profiles and (2) whether non-manifesting LRRK2 mutation carriers present with similar aspects of inflammatory profiles as seen in PD-affected patients.
We assessed serum profiles of 23 immune-associated markers and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor in 534 individuals from the MJFF LRRK2 consortium.
A large proportion of inflammatory markers were gender-dependent. Both PD-affected cohorts showed increased levels of the pro-inflammatory marker fatty-acid-binding protein. Additionally, idiopathic PD but not LRRK2-associated PD patients showed increased levels of the pro-inflammatory marker interleukin-12-p40 as well as the anti-inflammatory species interleukin-10, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and stem cell factor. Non-manifesting LRRK2 mutation carriers including those with prodromal characteristics of PD presented with control-like inflammatory profiles.
Concomitant inflammation seems to be associated with idiopathic and LRRK2-associated PD. Identifying PD patients in whom inflammatory processes play a major role in their pathophysiology might offer a new therapeutic window at least for a subgroup of patients. Since non-manifesting LRRK2 mutation carriers with symptoms of the prodromal phase of PD did not show inflammatory profiles, activation of the immune system seems not an early event in the disease cascade.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12974-016-0588-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4879729  PMID: 27220776
Parkinson; LRRK2; Immune; Inflammation
5.  Validation of conversion between mini–mental state examination and montreal cognitive assessment 
Movement Disorders  2016;31(4):593-596.
Harmonizing data across cohorts is important for validating findings or combining data in meta‐analyses. We replicate and validate a previous conversion of MoCA to MMSE in PD.
We used five studies with 1,161 PD individuals and 2,091 observations measured with both the MoCA and MMSE. We compared a previously published conversion table using equipercentile equating with log‐linear smoothing to our internally derived scores.
Both conversions found good agreement within and across the studies when comparing true and converted MMSE (mean difference: 0.05; standard deviation: 1.84; median difference: 0; interquartile range: –1 to 1, using internal conversion).
These results show that one can get a reliable and valid conversion between two commonly used measures of cognition in PD studies. These approaches need to be applied to other scales and domains to enable large‐scale collaborative analyses across multiple PD cohorts. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
PMCID: PMC4864892  PMID: 26861697
Parkinson's disease; Mini–Mental State Examination; Montreal Cognitive Assessment; equating
6.  Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) in Parkinson's Disease: Potential as Trait-, Progression- and Prediction Marker and Confounding Factors 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0150552.
Biomarkers indicating trait, progression and prediction of pathology and symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD) often lack specificity or reliability. Investigating biomarker variance between individuals and over time and the effect of confounding factors is essential for the evaluation of biomarkers in PD, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
Materials and Methods
IGF-1 serum levels were investigated in up to 8 biannual visits in 37 PD patients and 22 healthy controls (HC) in the longitudinal MODEP study. IGF-1 baseline levels and annual changes in IGF-1 were compared between PD patients and HC while accounting for baseline disease duration (19 early stage: ≤3.5 years; 18 moderate stage: >4 years), age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and common medical factors putatively modulating IGF-1. In addition, associations of baseline IGF-1 with annual changes of motor, cognitive and depressive symptoms and medication dose were investigated.
PD patients in moderate (130±26 ng/mL; p = .004), but not early stages (115±19, p>.1), showed significantly increased baseline IGF-1 levels compared with HC (106±24 ng/mL; p = .017). Age had a significant negative correlation with IGF-1 levels in HC (r = -.47, p = .028) and no correlation in PD patients (r = -.06, p>.1). BMI was negatively correlated in the overall group (r = -.28, p = .034). The annual changes in IGF-1 did not differ significantly between groups and were not correlated with disease duration. Baseline IGF-1 levels were not associated with annual changes of clinical parameters.
Elevated IGF-1 in serum might differentiate between patients in moderate PD stages and HC. However, the value of serum IGF-1 as a trait-, progression- and prediction marker in PD is limited as IGF-1 showed large inter- and intraindividual variability and may be modulated by several confounders.
PMCID: PMC4788352  PMID: 26967642
7.  GDF15/MIC1 and MMP9 Cerebrospinal Fluid Levels in Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0149349.
Based on animal and ex-vivo experiments, Growth/Differentiation Factor-15 (GDF15, also called Macrophage Inhibitory Cytokine-1, MIC1), a member of the transforming growth factor-beta family, and Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9), a member of the matrix metalloprotease family may be potential markers for Lewy body disorders, i.e. Parkinson’s disease with (PDD) and without dementia (PDND) and Lewy body dementia (DLB). GDF15 has a prominent role in development, cell proliferation, differentiation, and repair, whereas MMP9 degrades, as a proteolytic enzyme, components of the extracellular matrix. In this study, cerebrospinal fluid GDF15 and MMP9 levels of 59 PDND, 17 PDD and 23 DLB patients, as well as of 95 controls were determined, and associated with demographic, clinical and biochemical parameters. Our analysis confirmed the already described association of GDF15 levels with age and gender. Corrected GDF15 levels were significantly higher in PDD than in PDND patients, and intermediate in DLB patients. Within Lewy body disorders, GDF15 levels correlated positively with age at onset of Parkinsonism and dementia, Hoehn & Yahr stage and cerebrospinal fluid t-Tau and p-Tau levels, and negatively with the Mini Mental State Examination. Remarkably, it does not relevantly correlate with disease duration. MMP9 was not relevantly associated with any of these parameters. Cerebrospinal GDF15, but not MMP9, may be a potential marker of and in Lewy body disorders.
PMCID: PMC4777571  PMID: 26938614
8.  TREM2 R47H variant and risk of essential tremor: A cross-sectional international multicenter study 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2014;21(3):306-309.
Essential tremor (ET) is the most frequent movement disorder in adults. Its pathophysiology is not clearly understood, however there is growing evidence showing common etiologic factors with other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases (AD, PD). Recently, a rare p.R47H substitution (rs75932628) in the TREM2 protein (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2; OMIM: *605086) has been proposed as a risk factor for AD, PD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The objective of the study was to determine whether TREM2 p.R47H allele is also a risk factor for developing ET.
This was a cross-sectional multicenter international study. An initial case-control cohort from Spain (n = 456 ET, n = 2715 controls) was genotyped. In a replication phase, a case-control series (n = 897 ET, n = 1449 controls) from different populations (Italy, Germany, North-America and Taiwan) was studied. Owed to the rarity of the variant, published results on p.R47H allele frequency from 14777 healthy controls from European, North American or Chinese descent were additionally considered. The main outcome measure was p.R47H (rs75932628) allelic frequency.
There was a significant association between TREM2 p.R47H variant and ET in the Spanish cohort (odds ratio [OR], 5.97; 95% CI, 1.203–29.626; p = 0.042), but it was not replicated in other populations.
These results argue in favor of population-specific differences in the allelic distribution and suggest that p.R47H (rs75932628) variant may contribute to the susceptibility of ET in Spanish population. However, taking into account the very low frequency of p.R47H, further confirmatory analyses of larger ET series are needed.
PMCID: PMC4408541  PMID: 25585992
TREM2; Essential tremor; p.R47H; Risk; Genetics
9.  Genome-wide analysis of genetic correlation in dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases 
Neurobiology of Aging  2016;38:214.e7-214.e10.
The similarities between dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and both Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are many and range from clinical presentation, to neuropathological characteristics, to more recently identified, genetic determinants of risk. Because of these overlapping features, diagnosing DLB is challenging and has clinical implications since some therapeutic agents that are applicable in other diseases have adverse effects in DLB. Having shown that DLB shares some genetic risk with PD and AD, we have now quantified the amount of sharing through the application of genetic correlation estimates, and show that, from a purely genetic perspective, and excluding the strong association at the APOE locus, DLB is equally correlated to AD and PD.
PMCID: PMC4759606  PMID: 26643944
Dementia with Lewy bodies; Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; Genetic correlation
10.  Limited Effect of Dopaminergic Medication on Straight Walking and Turning in Early-to-Moderate Parkinson’s Disease during Single and Dual Tasking 
In Parkinson’s disease (PD), the effects of dopaminergic medication on straight walking and turning were mainly investigated under single tasking (ST) conditions. However, multitasking situations are considered more daily relevant.
Thirty-nine early-to-moderate PD patients performed the following standardized ST and dual tasks as fast as possible for 1 min during On- and Off-medication while wearing inertial sensors: straight walking and turning, checking boxes, and subtracting serial 7s. Quantitative gait parameters as well as velocity of the secondary tasks were analyzed.
The following parameters improved significantly in On-medication during ST: gait velocity during straight walking (p = 0.03); step duration (p = 0.048) and peak velocity (p = 0.04) during turning; velocity of checking boxes during ST (p = 0.04) and DT (p = 0.04). Velocity of checking boxes was the only parameter that also improved during DT.
These results suggest that dopaminergic medication does not relevantly influence straight walking and turning in early-to-moderate PD during DT.
PMCID: PMC4728201  PMID: 26858638
Parkinson’s disease; dual tasking; gait; turning; wearable sensors
12.  Prodromal Markers in Parkinson’s Disease: Limitations in Longitudinal Studies and Lessons Learned 
A growing body of evidence supports a prodromal neurodegenerative process preceding the clinical onset of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Studies have identified several different prodromal markers that may have the potential to predict the conversion from healthy to clinical PD but use considerably different approaches. We systematically reviewed 35 longitudinal studies reporting prodromal PD features and evaluated the methodological quality across 10 different predefined domains. We found limitations in the following domains: PD diagnosis (57% of studies), prodromal marker assessments (51%), temporal information on prodromal markers or PD diagnosis (34%), generalizability of results (17%), statistical methods (accounting for at least age as confounder; 17%), study design (14%), and sample size (9%). However, no limitations regarding drop-out (or bias investigation), or report of inclusion/exclusion criteria or prodromal marker associations were revealed. Lessons learned from these limitations and additional aspects of current prodromal marker studies in PD are discussed to provide a basis for the evaluation of findings and the improvement of future research in prodromal PD. The observed heterogeneity of studies, limitations and analyses might be addressed in future longitudinal studies using a, yet to be established, modular minimal set of assessments improving comparability of findings and enabling data sharing and combined analyses across studies.
PMCID: PMC4916171  PMID: 27445791
Parkinson’s disease; prodromal; cohort; prospective; case-control; clinical; longitudinal; marker
13.  Dual Tasking for the Differentiation between Depression and Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Differentiation of mild cognitive impairment from depression in elderly adults is a clinically relevant issue which is not sufficiently solved. Gait and dual task (DT) parameters may have the potential to complement current diagnostic work-up, as both dementia and depression are associated with changes of gait and DT parameters. Methods: Seven hundred and four participants of the TREND study (Tübinger evaluation of Risk factors for Early detection of NeuroDegeneration) aged 50–80 years were assessed using the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease Plus test battery for testing cognition and Beck's Depression Inventory for evaluation of depression. Based on these results, four groups were defined: acute depressed (N = 53), cognitively mildly impaired (N = 97), acute depressed, and cognitively mildly impaired (N = 15), and controls (N = 536). Participants underwent a 20 m walk and checking boxes task under single (ST) and DT conditions. ST and DT performance and dual task costs (DTC) were calculated. Due to the typical age of increasing incidence of depressive and also cognitive symptoms, the 7th decade was calculated separately. Results: ST speeds of gait and checking boxes, DT walking speed, and walking DTC were significantly different between groups. Healthy controls were the fastest in all paradigms and cognitively mildly impaired had higher DTC than depressed individuals. Additionally, we constructed a multivariate predictive model differentiating the groups on a single-subject level. Conclusion: DT parameters are simply and comfortably measureable, and DTC can easily be determined. The combination of these parameters allows a differentiation of depressed and cognitively mildly impaired elderly adults.
PMCID: PMC5062919  PMID: 27790136
depression; dual-task costs; gait speed; mild cognitive impairment; working memory
14.  Cognitive Performance Patterns in Healthy Individuals with Substantia Nigra Hyperechogenicity and Early Parkinson’s Disease 
Introduction: Hyperechogenicity of the substantia nigra (SN+) is a risk marker for Parkinson’s disease (PD) which can be detected before the diagnosis. In healthy individuals, SN+ has been associated with slight deficits in specific cognitive functions, suggesting cognitive impairment as a possible pre-diagnostic marker for PD. However, the pattern of cognitive deficits associated with SN+ has not yet been compared with those present in PD.
Methods: Data of 262 healthy individuals with normal echogenicity (SN-) and 48 healthy individuals with SN+ were compared with 82 early stage PD patients using the “Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease” test battery. First, the test clusters (factors) were identified using a principal component analysis (PCA). Mean group performance of cognitive tests belonging to distinct factors, according to the PCA, and single subtest performances were compared using analyses of variance. Second, the number of individuals with abnormal cognitive performances (z-score < -1.0) were compared between groups.
Results: Verbal memory, semantic and executive function, and praxis were identified as components of cognitive performances. The SN+ group performed significantly worse than the SN- group in tests assessing semantic and executive function, with a non-significant decrease in verbal memory. On the subtest level, individuals of the SN+ group scored significantly lower than the SN- group on the Boston Naming Test (BNT; p = 0.008). In all subtests, the percentages of PD patients with values below the cut-off for abnormal performance were higher than in the SN- group. Moreover, more individuals from the SN+ group scored below the cut-off in the BNT (SN- = 8.4%, SN+ = 20.8%, p = 0.01) and TMT-B (SN- = 6.9%, SN+ = 16.7%, p = 0.02), compared to the SN- group.
Conclusion: This study confirms poorer performance of healthy individuals with SN+ compared to SN- in specific cognitive domains. However, against the SN- group, the cognitive profile of the SN+ group was not fully consistent with the profile of early PD patients. Our data argues that cognitive impairment associated with SN+ might differ slightly from that seen in early PD. Compensational mechanisms in the early phases of neurodegeneration, and the fact that only a subgroup of SN+ will develop PD, may partly explain these differences.
PMCID: PMC5108760  PMID: 27895578
substantia nigra hyperechogenicity; Parkinson’s disease; cognition; transcranial sonography; prodromal Parkinson’s disease
16.  Multi-omic profiles of human non-alcoholic fatty liver disease tissue highlight heterogenic phenotypes 
Scientific Data  2015;2:150068.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a consequence of sedentary life style and high fat diets with an estimated prevalence of about 30% in western countries. It is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, glucose intolerance and drug toxicity. Additionally, polymorphisms within, e.g., APOC3, PNPLA3, NCAN, TM6SF2 and PPP1R3B, correlate with NAFLD. Several studies have already investigated later stages of the disease. This study explores the early steatosis stage of NAFLD with the aim of identifying molecular mechanisms underlying the etiology of NAFLD. We analyzed liver biopsies and serum samples from patients with high- and low-grade steatosis (also pre-disease states) employing transcriptomics, ELISA-based serum protein analyses and metabolomics. Here, we provide a detailed description of the various related datasets produced in the course of this study. These datasets may help other researchers find new clues for the etiology of NAFLD and the mechanisms underlying its progression to more severe disease states.
PMCID: PMC4672680  PMID: 26646939
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Metabolomics; Gene expression analysis; Systems biology
17.  Association between vestibulo-ocular reflex suppression, balance, gait, and fall risk in ageing and neurodegenerative disease: protocol of a one-year prospective follow-up study 
BMC Neurology  2015;15:192.
Falls frequency increases with age and particularly in neurogeriatric cohorts. The interplay between eye movements and locomotion may contribute substantially to the occurrence of falls, but is hardly investigated. This paper provides an overview of current approaches to simultaneously measure eye and body movements, particularly for analyzing the association of vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) suppression, postural deficits and falls in neurogeriatric risk cohorts. Moreover, VOR suppression is measured during head-fixed target presentation and during gaze shifting while postural control is challenged. Using these approaches, we aim at identifying quantitative parameters of eye-head-coordination during postural balance and gait, as indicators of fall risk.
Patients with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) or Parkinson’s disease (PD), age- and sex-matched healthy older adults, and a cohort of young healthy adults will be recruited. Baseline assessment will include a detailed clinical assessment, covering medical history, neurological examination, disease specific clinical rating scales, falls-related self-efficacy, activities of daily living, neuro-psychological screening, assessment of mobility function and a questionnaire for retrospective falls. Moreover, participants will simultaneously perform eye and head movements (fixating a head-fixed target vs. shifting gaze to light emitting diodes in order to quantify vestibulo-ocular reflex suppression ability) under different conditions (sitting, standing, or walking). An eye/head tracker synchronized with a 3-D motion analysis system will be used to quantify parameters related to eye-head-coordination, postural balance, and gait. Established outcome parameters related to VOR suppression ability (e.g., gain, saccadic reaction time, frequency of saccades) and motor related fall risk (e.g., step-time variability, postural sway) will be calculated. Falls will be assessed prospectively over 12 months via protocols and monthly telephone interviews.
This study protocol describes an experimental setup allowing the analysis of simultaneously assessed eye, head and body movements. Results will improve our understanding of the influence of the interplay between eye, head and body movements on falls in geriatric high-risk cohorts.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12883-015-0447-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4600299  PMID: 26452640
Vestibulo-ocular reflex suppression; VOR; Falls; Postural stability; Gait; Balance; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson’s Disease; Parkinsonism; Older persons
18.  Age and Vascular Burden Determinants of Cortical Hemodynamics Underlying Verbal Fluency 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0138863.
Aging processes and several vascular burden factors have been shown to increase the risk of dementia including Alzheimer's disease. While pathological alterations in dementia precede diagnosis by many years, reorganization of brain processing might temporarily delay cognitive decline. We hypothesized that in healthy elderly individuals both age-related neural and vascular factors known to be related to the development of dementia impact functional cortical hemodynamics during increased cognitive demands.
Vascular burden factors and cortical functional hemodynamics during verbal fluency were assessed in 1052 non-demented elderly individuals (51 to 83 years; cross-sectional data of the longitudinal TREND study) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). The prediction of functional hemodynamic responses by age in multiple regressions and the impact of single and cumulative vascular burden factors including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking and atherosclerosis were investigated.
Replicating and extending previous findings we could show that increasing age predicted functional hemodynamics to be increased in right prefrontal and bilateral parietal cortex, and decreased in bilateral inferior frontal junction during phonological fluency. Cumulative vascular burden factors, with hypertension in particular, decreased left inferior frontal junction hemodynamic responses during phonological fluency. However, age and vascular burden factors showed no statistical interaction on functional hemodynamics.
Based on these findings, one might hypothesize that increased fronto-parietal processing may represent age-related compensatory reorganization during increased cognitive demands. Vascular burden factors, such as hypertension, may contribute to regional cerebral hypoperfusion. These neural and vascular hemodynamic determinants should be investigated longitudinally and combined with other markers to advance the prediction of future cognitive decline and dementia.
PMCID: PMC4578891  PMID: 26394050
19.  Digitomotography in Parkinson’s Disease: A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123914.
Motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD) are usually assessed with semi-quantitative tests such as the Unified PD Rating Scale (UPDRS) which are limited by subjectivity, categorical design, and low sensitivity. Particularly bradykinesia as assessed e.g. with speeded index finger tapping exhibits low validity measures. This exploratory study set out to (i) assess whether force transducer-based objective and quantitative analysis of motor coordination in index finger tapping is able to distinguish between PD patients and controls, and (ii) assess longitudinal changes. Sixteen early-stage and 17 mid-stage PD patients as well as 18 controls were included in the cross-sectional part of the study; thirteen, 16 and 16 individuals of the respective groups agreed in a reassessment 12 months later. Frequency, force, rhythmicity, regularity and laterality of speeded and metronome paced tapping were recorded by digitomotography using a quantitative motor system ("Q-Motor"). Analysis of cross-sectional data revealed most consistent differences between PD patients and controls in variability of tap performance across modalities assessed. Among PD patients, variability of taps and the ability to keep a given rhythm were associated with UPDRS motor and finger tapping scores. After 12 months, laterality parameters were reduced but no other parameters changed significantly. This data suggests that digitomotography provides quantitative and objective measures capable to differentiate PD from non-PD in a small cohort, however, the value of the assessment to track PD progression has to be further evaluated in larger cohorts of patients.
PMCID: PMC4406446  PMID: 25902182
20.  Design of the Park-in-Shape study: a phase II double blind randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of exercise on motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease 
BMC Neurology  2015;15:56.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with a wide range of motor and non-motor symptoms. Despite optimal medical management, PD still results in a high disability rate and secondary complications and many patients lead a sedentary lifestyle, which in turn is also associated with a higher co-morbidity and mortality. Exercise has been explored as a strategy to reduce secondary complications and results suggests that it not only provides general health benefits, but may also provide symptomatic relief. If this holds true exercise would be a very attractive addition to the therapeutic arsenal in PD. The supportive evidence remains incomplete. Here, we describe the design of the Park-in-Shape study, which primarily aims to evaluate whether aerobic exercise affords clinically relevant improvements in motor symptoms in sedentary PD patients. A specific new element is the introduction of gaming to optimize compliance to the exercise intervention.
The Park-in-Shape study is a randomized controlled, assessor- and patient-blinded single center study. Two parallel groups will include a total of 130 patients, receiving either aerobic exercise on a home trainer equipped with gaming elements (“exergaming”), or a non-aerobic intervention (stretching, flexibility and relaxation exercises). Both groups are supported by a specifically designed motivational app that uses gaming elements to stimulate patients to exercise and rewards them after having completed the exercise. Both interventions are delivered at home at least 3 times a week for 30–45 minutes during 6 months. Eligible patients are community-dwelling, sedentary patients diagnosed with mild-moderate PD. The primary outcome is the MDS-UPDRS motor score (tested in the off state) after 6 months. Secondary outcomes include various motor and non-motor symptoms, quality of life, physical fitness, and adherence.
This Park-in-Shape study is anticipated to answer the question whether high intensity aerobic exercise combined with gaming elements (“exergaming”) provides symptomatic relief in PD. Strong elements include the double-blinded randomized controlled trial design, the MDS-UPDRS as valid primary outcome, the large sample size and unique combination of home-based pure aerobic exercise combined with gaming elements and motivational aspects.
Trial registration
Dutch trial register NTR4743
PMCID: PMC4418070  PMID: 25880966
Parkinson disease; Physical activity; Exergaming; RCT
21.  Naturally Occurring Alpha-Synuclein Autoantibodies in Parkinson’s Disease: Sources of (Error) Variance in Biomarker Assays 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114566.
Alpha-synuclein (α-Syn) plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD), which can partly be modulated by innate and adaptive immune functions, and vice versa. Here, naturally occurring α-Syn autoantibodies (α-Syn-nAbs) may be effective against α-Syn pathoetiology and may serve as a PD biomarker. However, serum and cerebrospinal fluid α-Syn-nAbs levels still lack consistent evidence as required for a reliable PD biomarker. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid α-Syn-nAbs levels of 66 PD patients and 69 healthy controls were assessed using a validated ELISA assay. Moreover, potential sources of error variance including unspecific ELISA background signals, free serum hemoglobin concentrations, α-Syn plate coating procedures, and differences in α-Syn-nAbs standards, were investigated. PD patients and controls did not differ in serum (p = .49) nor cerebrospinal fluid (p = .29) α-Syn-nAbs levels. Interestingly, free serum hemoglobin concentrations were negatively correlated with α-Syn-nAbs levels in controls (Spearman  = −.41, p<.001), but not in PD patients ( = .16, p = .21). ELISA α-Syn plate coating procedures impacted inter-assay variability (same day coating: 8–16%; coating on different days: 16–58%). α-Syn-nAbs standards from different purification batches differed regarding optical density measured in ELISAs suggesting differences in α-Syn affinity. While α-Syn-nAbs levels may represent a potential PD biomarker, several methodological issues have to be considered to increase reproducibility of α-Syn-nAbs findings. Further studies using standardized protocols minimizing sources of error variance may be necessary to establish a reliable PD α-Syn-nAbs biomarker.
PMCID: PMC4255021  PMID: 25470145
22.  Genetic analysis implicates APOE, SNCA and suggests lysosomal dysfunction in the etiology of dementia with Lewy bodies 
Human molecular genetics  2014;23(23):6139-6146.
Clinical and neuropathological similarities between dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (PD and AD, respectively) suggest that these disorders may share etiology. To test this hypothesis, we have performed an association study of 54 genomic regions, previously implicated in PD or AD, in a large cohort of DLB cases and controls. The cohort comprised 788 DLB cases and 2624 controls. To minimize the issue of potential misdiagnosis, we have also performed the analysis including only neuropathologically proven DLB cases (667 cases). The results show that the APOE is a strong genetic risk factor for DLB, confirming previous findings, and that the SNCA and SCARB2 loci are also associated after a study-wise Bonferroni correction, although these have a different association profile than the associations reported for the same loci in PD. We have previously shown that the p.N370S variant in GBA is associated with DLB, which, together with the findings at the SCARB2 locus, suggests a role for lysosomal dysfunction in this disease. These results indicate that DLB has a unique genetic risk profile when compared with the two most common neurodegenerative diseases and that the lysosome may play an important role in the etiology of this disorder. We make all these data available.
PMCID: PMC4222357  PMID: 24973356
23.  Post-Cueing Deficits with Maintained Cueing Benefits in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia 
In Parkinson’s disease (PD), internal cueing mechanisms are impaired leading to symptoms like hypokinesia. However, external cues can improve movement execution by using cortical resources. These cortical processes can be affected by cognitive decline in dementia. It is still unclear how dementia in PD influences external cueing. We investigated a group of 25 PD patients with dementia (PDD) and 25 non-demented PD patients (PDnD) matched by age, sex, and disease duration in a simple reaction time task using an additional acoustic cue. PDD patients benefited from the additional cue in similar magnitude as did PDnD patients. However, withdrawal of the cue led to a significantly increased reaction time in the PDD group compared to the PDnD patients. Our results indicate that even PDD patients can benefit from strategies using external cue presentation but the process of cognitive worsening can reduce the effect when cues are withdrawn.
PMCID: PMC4235071  PMID: 25477860
Parkinson’s disease; dementia; external cueing; reaction time; non-pharmacological therapy; basal ganglia; permanent cueing
24.  Time to Redefine PD? Introductory Statement of the MDS Task Force on the Definition of Parkinson’s Disease 
With advances in knowledge disease, boundaries may change. Occasionally, these changes are of such a magnitude that they require redefinition of the disease. In recognition of the profound changes in our understanding of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society (MDS) commissioned a task force to consider a redefinition of PD. This review is a discussion article, intended as the introductory statement of the task force. Several critical issues were identified that challenge current PD definitions. First, new findings challenge the central role of the classical pathologic criteria as the arbiter of diagnosis, notably genetic cases without synuclein deposition, the high prevalence of incidental Lewy body (LB) deposition, and the nonmotor prodrome of PD. It remains unclear, however, whether these challenges merit a change in the pathologic gold standard, especially considering the limitations of alternate gold standards. Second, the increasing recognition of dementia in PD challenges the distinction between diffuse LB disease and PD. Consideration might be given to removing dementia as an exclusion criterion for PD diagnosis. Third, there is increasing recognition of disease heterogeneity, suggesting that PD subtypes should be formally identified; however, current subtype classifications may not be sufficiently robust to warrant formal delineation. Fourth, the recognition of a nonmotor prodrome of PD requires that new diagnostic criteria for early-stage and prodromal PD should be created; here, essential features of these criteria are proposed. Finally, there is a need to create new MDS diagnostic criteria that take these changes in disease definition into consideration.
PMCID: PMC4204150  PMID: 24619848
redefinition of PD; gold standard; subtypes; disease heterogeneity; nonmotor prodrome; MDS diagnostic criteria

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