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1.  Mortality in Levodopa-Treated Parkinson's Disease 
Parkinson's Disease  2014;2014:426976.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with increased mortality despite many advances in treatment. Following the introduction of levodopa in the late 1960's, many studies reported improved or normalized mortality rates in PD. Despite the remarkable symptomatic benefits provided by levodopa, multiple recent studies have demonstrated that PD patients continue to die at a rate in excess of their peers. We undertook this retrospective study of 211 deceased PD patients to determine the factors associated with mortality in levodopa-treated PD. Our findings confirm that PD is associated with increased mortality in both men and women. Unlike the majority of other mortality studies, we found that women have a greater reduction in lifespan compared to men. We also found that patients with early onset PD (onset at the age of 50 or before) have reduced survival relative to PD patients with later ages of onset. A final important finding is that survival is equal in PD patients treated with levodopa early (within 2 years or less of PD onset) versus later.
PMCID: PMC3927757  PMID: 24616821
2.  Handedness and motor symptom asymmetry in Parkinson’s disease 
The objective of this study was to confirm whether an association between handedness and the side of symptom onset exists and to evaluate the impact of this association on specific clinical characteristics of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
1173 PD patients were identified from a clinical database. Patients with asymmetrical onset (n=1015) were divided into those with dominant-side onset and those with non-dominant-side onset, and the clinical characteristics of the two subgroups were compared.
In our PD sample, 86.5% of patients presented asymmetrically. There was a significant association between handedness and the side of the initial symptom; that is, the dominant side was affected first in the majority of both left- and right-handed patients. Compared with patients with non-dominant side onset, more patients with dominant-side onset presented with bradykinesia, while fewer patients presented with gait difficulty. Patients with dominant-side onset were diagnosed and began dopaminergic medication after a longer symptom duration than patients with non-dominant-side onset. The only difference in Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale scores between the two groups was in a subscore addressing dominant-hand tasks.
An association exists between the dominant hand and the side of the initial motor symptom in PD. Whether the initial symptom occurs on the dominant or non-dominant side has implications for the reported first symptom, the time to diagnosis and the time to dopaminergic treatment initiation. The side of disease onset does not affect the severity of disease, as measured by the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale.
PMCID: PMC3729350  PMID: 20861062
3.  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
The Activities of Daily Living (ADL) subscore of the UPDRS captures the impact of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) on daily function and may be less affected than other subsections by variability associated with drug cycle and motor fluctuations. We examined UPDRS mentation, ADL and motor subscores in 888 patients with idiopathic PD. Multiple linear regression analyses determined the association between disease duration and UPDRS subscores as a function of medication status at examination and in a subset of patients with multiple examinations. Independent of medication status and across cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, ADL subscores showed a stronger and more stable association with disease duration than other UPDRS subscores after adjusting for age of disease onset. The association between disease duration and the motor subscore depended on medication status. The strong association between ADL subscore and disease duration in PD suggests that this measure may serve as a better marker of disease progression than signs and symptoms assessed in other UPDRS sections.
PMCID: PMC3103833  PMID: 18951537
5.  Huntington CAG repeat size does not modify onset age in familial Parkinson’s disease: The GenePD Study 
The ATP/ADP ratio reflects mitochondrial function and has been reported to be influenced by the size of the Huntington disease gene (HD) repeat. Impaired mitochondrial function has long been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and therefore, we evaluated the relationship of the HD CAG repeat size to PD onset age in a large sample of familial PD cases. PD affected siblings (n=495) with known onset ages from 248 families, were genotyped for the HD CAG repeat. Genotyping failed in 11 cases leaving 484 for analysis, including 35 LRRK2 carriers. All cases had HD CAG repeats (range 15 to 34) below the clinical range for HD, although 5.2 percent of the sample (n=25) had repeats in the intermediate range (the intermediate range lower limit=27; upper limit=35 repeats), suggesting that the prevalence of intermediate allele carriers in the general population is significant. No relation between the HD CAG repeat size and the age at onset for PD was found in this sample of familial PD.
PMCID: PMC2655323  PMID: 18649400
Parkinson’s disease; Huntington’s disease; CAG repeat; onset age; genetics; mitochondria
6.  The Gly2019Ser mutation in LRRK2 is not fully penetrant in familial Parkinson's disease: the GenePD study 
BMC Medicine  2008;6:32.
We report age-dependent penetrance estimates for leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)-related Parkinson's disease (PD) in a large sample of familial PD. The most frequently seen LRRK2 mutation, Gly2019Ser (G2019S), is associated with approximately 5 to 6% of familial PD cases and 1 to 2% of idiopathic cases, making it the most common known genetic cause of PD. Studies of the penetrance of LRRK2 mutations have produced a wide range of estimates, possibly due to differences in study design and recruitment, including in particular differences between samples of familial PD versus sporadic PD.
A sample, including 903 affected and 58 unaffected members from 509 families ascertained for having two or more PD-affected members, 126 randomly ascertained PD patients and 197 controls, was screened for five different LRRK2 mutations. Penetrance was estimated in families of LRRK2 carriers with consideration of the inherent bias towards increased penetrance in a familial sample.
Thirty-one out of 509 families with multiple cases of PD (6.1%) were found to have 58 LRRK2 mutation carriers (6.4%). Twenty-nine of the 31 families had G2019S mutations while two had R1441C mutations. No mutations were identified among controls or unaffected relatives of PD cases. Nine PD-affected relatives of G2019S carriers did not carry the LRRK2 mutation themselves. At the maximum observed age range of 90 to 94 years, the unbiased estimated penetrance was 67% for G2019S families, compared with a baseline PD risk of 17% seen in the non-LRRK2-related PD families.
Lifetime penetrance of LRRK2 estimated in the unascertained relatives of multiplex PD families is greater than that reported in studies of sporadically ascertained LRRK2 cases, suggesting that inherited susceptibility factors may modify the penetrance of LRRK2 mutations. In addition, the presence of nine PD phenocopies in the LRRK2 families suggests that these susceptibility factors may also increase the risk of non-LRRK2-related PD. No differences in penetrance were found between men and women, suggesting that the factors that influence penetrance for LRRK2 carriers are independent of the factors which increase PD prevalence in men.
PMCID: PMC2596771  PMID: 18986508

Results 1-6 (6)