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1.  Disentangling the Relationship between Lewy Bodies and Nigral Neuronal Loss in Parkinson’s Disease 
Journal of Parkinson's disease  2011;1(3):277-286.
Progressive rostral spread of Lewy body (LB) pathology is thought to reflect the clinical course of Parkinson’s disease (PD) although several studies have suggested that LBs are not the toxic species responsible for cell death. We investigated the relationship between nigral dopaminergic cell loss, distribution and density of α-synuclein-immunoreactive LBs and duration of motor symptoms in 97 patients with PD. Density of pigmented neurons was measured in a single section of one half of the substantia nigra (SN) with delineation of the dorsal and ventral tiers whereas the cortical and nigral LB densities were determined using a morphometric approach. The density of nigral neurons was estimated to decrease by 2% each year after confirmation of the clinical diagnosis of PD but showed marked heterogeneity with some PD patients with longer duration of illness still possessing a significant number of preserved pigmented nigral neurons at the time of death. An average 15% of surviving nigral neurones contained LBs and the age–adjusted proportion of LB-bearing neurons appeared relatively stable throughout the disease duration. No difference was observed in the age at death or duration of disease with respect to Braak PD stages. The nigral neuronal density was unrelated to either the Braak PD stage or to cortical LB densities. We conclude that nigral neuronal loss is slow and shows considerable variation in PD. Our data also provides no support for a primary pathogenic role of LBs as neither their distribution nor density was associated with the severity of nigral cell loss.
PMCID: PMC4196643  PMID: 23939308
Duration; Lewy bodies; neuronal loss; Parkinson’s disease; substantia nigra; α-synuclein
2.  Bone health in Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Parkinson's disease (PD) and osteoporosis are chronic diseases associated with increasing age. Single studies have reported associations between them and the major consequence, namely, increased risk of fractures. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the relationship of PD with osteoporosis, bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk.
A literature search was undertaken on 4 September 2012 using multiple indexing databases and relevant search terms. Articles were screened for suitability and data extracted where studies met inclusion criteria and were of sufficient quality. Data were combined using standard meta-analysis methods.
23 studies were used in the final analysis. PD patients were at higher risk of osteoporosis (OR 2.61; 95% CI 1.69 to 4.03) compared with healthy controls. Male patients had a lower risk for osteoporosis and osteopenia than female patients (OR 0.45; 95% CI 0.29 to 0.68). PD patients had lower hip, lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD levels compared with healthy controls; mean difference, −0.08, 95% CI −0.13 to −0.02 for femoral neck; −0.09, 95% CI −0.15 to −0.03 for lumbar spine; and −0.05, 95% CI −0.07 to −0.03 for total hip. PD patients were also at increased risk of fractures (OR 2.28; 95% CI 1.83 to 2.83).
This systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrate that PD patients are at higher risk for both osteoporosis and osteopenia compared with healthy controls, and that female patients are at greater risk than male patients. Patients with PD also have lower BMD and are at increased risk of fractures.
PMCID: PMC4173751  PMID: 24620034
3.  Distinct clinical and neuropathological features of G51D SNCA mutation cases compared with SNCA duplication and H50Q mutation 
We and others have described the neurodegenerative disorder caused by G51D SNCA mutation which shares characteristics of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA). The objective of this investigation was to extend the description of the clinical and neuropathological hallmarks of G51D mutant SNCA-associated disease by the study of two additional cases from a further G51D SNCA kindred and to compare the features of this group with a SNCA duplication case and a H50Q SNCA mutation case.
All three G51D patients were clinically characterised by parkinsonism, dementia, visual hallucinations, autonomic dysfunction and pyramidal signs with variable age at disease onset and levodopa response. The H50Q SNCA mutation case had a clinical picture that mimicked late-onset idiopathic PD with a good and sustained levodopa response. The SNCA duplication case presented with a clinical phenotype of frontotemporal dementia with marked behavioural changes, pyramidal signs, postural hypotension and transiently levodopa responsive parkinsonism. Detailed post-mortem neuropathological analysis was performed in all cases. All three G51D cases had abundant α-synuclein pathology with characteristics of both PD and MSA. These included widespread cortical and subcortical neuronal α-synuclein inclusions together with small numbers of inclusions resembling glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) in oligodendrocytes. In contrast the H50Q and SNCA duplication cases, had α-synuclein pathology resembling idiopathic PD without GCIs. Phosphorylated α-synuclein was present in all inclusions types in G51D cases but was more restricted in SNCA duplication and H50Q mutation. Inclusions were also immunoreactive for the 5G4 antibody indicating their highly aggregated and likely fibrillar state.
Our characterisation of the clinical and neuropathological features of the present small series of G51D SNCA mutation cases should aid the recognition of this clinico-pathological entity. The neuropathological features of these cases consistently share characteristics of PD and MSA and are distinct from PD patients carrying the H50Q or SNCA duplication.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13024-015-0038-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4549856  PMID: 26306801
Parkinson’s disease; Multiple system atrophy; α-synuclein; Clinical features; Phosphorylation; Mutation; SNCA
4.  Increased reflection impulsivity in patients with ephedrone induced Parkinsonism 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2013;108(4):771-779.
To examine a syndrome of chronic manganism that occurs in drug addicts in Eastern Europe who use intravenous methcathinone (ephedrone) contaminated with potassium permanganate. The basal ganglia, especially the globus pallidus and the putamen, are damaged irreversibly in many cases. Routine neuropsychological assessment has revealed no cognitive deficits despite widespread abnormalities on brain imaging studies and severe extrapyramidal motor handicap on clinical examination.
Case control study.
Ephedrone patients and patients with opioid dependence were recruited from Lviv, Ukraine.
We tested 15 patients with ephedrone induced toxicity, 13 opiate dependent patients, who were receiving opioid replacement therapy and 18 matched healthy volunteers.
The ‘beads task’, an information gathering task to assess reflection impulsivity was used and feedback learning, working memory and risk taking were also assessed.
Opiate dependent patients differed from controls on three out of four tasks, whereas ephedrone patients differed from controls on only one task. More specifically both patient groups were more impulsive and made more irrational choices on the beads task than controls (p<0.001). However, ephedrone patients had no deficits in working memory (p>0.1) or risk taking (p>0.1) compared with controls. Opioid dependent patients had significantly worse working memory (p<0.001) and were significantly more risk prone than controls (p=0.002).
Ephedrone patients may have similar deficits in information gathering and decision making to opiate dependent patients, with preservation of working memory and risk taking. This may reflect specific damage to anterior cingulate- basal ganglia loops.
PMCID: PMC3938292  PMID: 23228208
6.  Linked Clinical Trials – The Development of New Clinical Learning Studies in Parkinson’s Disease Using Screening of Multiple Prospective New Treatments 
Journal of Parkinson's disease  2013;3(3):231-239.
Finding new therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slow process. We assembled an international committee of experts to examine drugs potentially suitable for repurposing to modify PD progression. This committee evaluated multiple drugs currently used, or being developed, in other therapeutic areas, as well as considering several natural, non-pharmaceutical compounds. The committee prioritized which of these putative treatments were most suited to move immediately into pilot clinical trials. Aspects considered included known modes of action, safety, blood-brain-barrier penetration, preclinical data in animal models of PD and the possibility to monitor target engagement in the brain. Of the 26 potential interventions, 10 were considered worth moving forward into small, parallel ‘learning’ clinical trials in PD patients. These trials could be funded in a multitude of ways through support from industry, research grants and directed philanthropic donations. The committee-based approach to select the candidate compounds might help rapidly identify new potential PD treatment strategies for use in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4318242  PMID: 24018336
Drug repositioning; disease modification; neuroprotection
7.  The analysis of C9orf72 repeat expansions in a large series of clinically and pathologically diagnosed cases with atypical parkinsonism☆ 
Neurobiology of Aging  2015;36(2):1221.e1-1221.e6.
A GGGGCC repeat expansion in the C9orf72 gene was recently identified as a major cause of familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. There is suggestion that these expansions may be a rare cause of parkinsonian disorders such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Screening the C9orf72 gene in 37 patients with features of corticobasal syndrome (CBS) detected an expansion in 3 patients, confirmed by Southern blotting. In a series of 22 patients with clinically diagnosed PSP, we found 1 patient with an intermediate repeat length. We also screened for the C9orf72 expansion in a large series of neuropathologically confirmed samples with MSA (n = 96), PSP (n = 177), and CBD (n = 18). Patients were found with no more than 22 GGGGCC repeats. Although these results still need to be confirmed in a larger cohort of CBS and/or CBD patients, these data suggest that in the presence of a family history and/or motor neuron disease features, patients with CBS or clinical PSP should be screened for the C9orf72 repeat expansion. In addition, we confirm that the C9orf72 expansions are not associated with pathologically confirmed MSA, PSP, or CBD in a large series of cases.
PMCID: PMC4321829  PMID: 25308964
C9orf72; Parkinsonism; Multiple system atrophy (MSA); Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP); Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and corticobasal syndrome (CBS)
8.  In a rush to decide: Deep brain stimulation and dopamine agonist therapy in Parkinson’s disease 
Journal of Parkinson's disease  2014;4(4):579-583.
It has been suggested that all patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who undergo functional neurosurgery have difficulties in slowing down in high conflict tasks. However, it is unclear whether concomitant dopaminergic medication is responsible for this impairment.
To assess perceptual decision making in PD patients with bilateral deep brain stimulation.
We tested 27 PD patients with bilateral deep brain stimulation on a task in which participants had to filter task relevant information from background noise. Thirteen patients were treated with Levodopa monotherapy and 14 patients were treated with Levodopa in combination with a dopamine agonist. Results were compared to healthy matched controls.
We found that all PD patients who were treated with a dopamine agonist made faster decisions than controls and PD patients who were not exposed to a dopamine agonist. Further, all patients made more errors than controls, but there was no difference between the two patient groups.
Our results suggest that dopamine agonist therapy rather than deep brain stimulation is likely responsible for the inability to slow down in high conflict situations in PD. These results further strengthen the need to reduce dopamine agonists in PD patients undergoing functional neurosurgery in order to prevent them making inadvisable decisions.
PMCID: PMC4256136  PMID: 25061059
9.  Alpha-synuclein mRNA expression in oligodendrocytes in MSA 
Glia  2014;62(6):964-970.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease presenting clinically with parkinsonian, cerebellar, and autonomic features. α-Synuclein (αsyn), encoded by the gene SNCA, is the main constituent of glial cytoplasmic inclusion (GCI) found in oligodendrocytes in MSA, but the methods of its accumulation have not been established. The aim of this study is to investigate alterations in regional and cellular SNCA mRNA expression in MSA as a possible substrate for GCI formation. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was performed on postmortem brain samples from 15 MSA, 5 IPD, and 5 control cases to investigate regional expression in the frontal and occipital regions, dorsal putamen, pontine base, and cerebellum. For cellular expression analysis, neurons and oligodendrocytes were isolated by laser-capture microdissection from five MSA and five control cases. SNCA mRNA expression was not significantly different between the MSA, IPD and control cases in all regions (multilevel model, P = 0.14). After adjusting for group effect, the highest expression was found in the occipital cortex while the lowest was in the putamen (multilevel model, P < 0.0001). At the cellular level, MSA oligodendrocytes expressed more SNCA than control oligodendrocytes and expression in MSA neurons was slightly lower than that in controls, however, these results did not reach statistical significance. We have demonstrated regional variations in SNCA expression, which is higher in cortical than subcortical regions. This study is the first to demonstrate SNCA mRNA expression by oligodendrocytes in human postmortem tissue using qPCR and, although not statistically significant, could suggest that this may be increased in MSA compared to controls.
PMCID: PMC4238782  PMID: 24590631
α-synuclein; multiple system atrophy; oligodendrocytes; glial cytoplasmic inclusions; laser-capture microdissection
10.  The Glucocerobrosidase E326K Variant Predisposes to Parkinson’s Disease, But Does Not Cause Gaucher’s Disease 
Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the acid beta-glucocerebrosidase (GBA1) gene, responsible for the recessive lysosomal storage disorder, Gaucher’s disease (GD), are the strongest known risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Our aim was to assess the contribution of GBA1 mutations in a series of early-onset PD.
One hundred and eighty-five PD patients (with an onset age of ≤50) and 283 age-matched controls were screened for GBA1 mutations by Sanger sequencing.
We show that the frequency of GBA1 mutations is much higher in this patient series than in typical late-onset patient cohorts. Furthermore, our results reveal that the most prevalent PD-associated GBA1 mutation is E326K, a variant that does not, when homozygous, cause GD.
Our results confirm recent reports that the mutation, E326K, predisposes to PD and suggest that, in addition to reduced GBA1 activity, other molecular mechanisms may contribute to the development of the disease.
PMCID: PMC4208290  PMID: 23225227
GBA; E326K; Parkinson’s disease; Gaucher’s disease; early onset
11.  Dopamine agonists rather than deep brain stimulation cause reflection impulsivity in Parkinson’s disease 
Journal of Parkinson's disease  2013;3(2):139-144.
To assess the role of dopamine agonist therapy and deep brain stimulation on reflection impulsivity in non-demented patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
We recruited 61 PD patients, 20 treated with L-dopa in combination with a dopamine agonist, 14 taking L-dopa monotherapy, a further 16 PD patients with bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation treated with L-dopa in combination with a dopamine agonist, and 11 PD patients with bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation taking L-dopa but not a dopamine agonist. Results were compared with 18 healthy controls. Patients who had evidence of impulsive compulsive behaviour were excluded.
Reflection impulsivity was assessed with the beads task, which is a validated information sampling task.
All patients treated with a dopamine agonist gathered significantly less information and made more irrational decisions than all other groups regardless of whether they had surgical treatment.
Our results imply that dopamine agonist therapy but not deep brain stimulation lead to “reflection impulsivity“ in PD.
PMCID: PMC4205962  PMID: 23938343
Parkinson’s disease [165]; deep brain stimulation [292]; neuropsychology [199]
12.  Parkin Disease: A Clinicopathologic Entity? 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(5):571-579.
Mutations in the gene encoding parkin (PARK2) are the most common cause of autosomal recessive juvenile-onset and young-onset parkinsonism. The few available detailed neuropathologic reports suggest that homozygous and compound heterozygous parkin mutations are characterized by severe substantia nigra pars compacta neuronal loss.
To investigate whether parkin -linked parkinsonism is a different clinicopathologic entity to Parkinson disease (PD).
Design, Setting, and Participants
We describe the clinical, genetic, and neuropathologic findings of 5 unrelated cases of parkin disease and compare them with 5 pathologically confirmed PD cases and 4 control subjects. The PD control cases and normal control subjects were matched first for age at death then disease duration (PD only) for comparison.
Presenting signs in the parkin disease cases were hand or leg tremor often combined with dystonia. Mean age at onset was 34 years; all cases were compound heterozygous for mutations of parkin. Freezing of gait, postural deformity, and motor fluctuations were common late features. No patients had any evidence of cognitive impairment or dementia. Neuronal counts in the substantia nigra pars compacta revealed that neuronal loss in the parkin cases was as severe as that seen in PD, but relative preservation of the dorsal tier was seen in comparison with PD (P = .04). Mild neuronal loss was identified in the locus coeruleus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, but not in the nucleus basalis of Meynert, raphe nucleus, or other brain regions. Sparse Lewy bodies were identified in 2 cases (brainstem and cortex).
Conclusions and Relevance
These findings support the notion that parkin disease is characterized by a more restricted morphologic abnormality than is found in PD, with predominantly ventral nigral degeneration and absent or rare Lewy bodies.
PMCID: PMC4202385  PMID: 23459986
13.  Lewy- and Alzheimer-type pathologies in Parkinson’s disease dementia: which is more important? 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2011;134(0 5):1493-1505.
The relative importance of Lewy- and Alzheimer-type pathologies to dementia in Parkinson’s disease remains unclear. We have examined the combined associations of α-synuclein, tau and amyloid-β accumulation in 56 pathologically confirmed Parkinson’s disease cases, 29 of whom had developed dementia. Cortical and subcortical amyloid-β scores were obtained, while tau and α-synuclein pathologies were rated according to the respective Braak stages. Additionally, cortical Lewy body and Lewy neurite scores were determined and Lewy body densities were generated using morphometry. Non-parametric statistics, together with regression models, receiver-operating characteristic curves and survival analyses were applied. Cortical and striatal amyloid-β scores, Braak tau stages, cortical Lewy body, Lewy neurite scores and Lewy body densities, but not Braak α-synuclein stages, were all significantly greater in the Parkinson’s disease-dementia group (P < 0.05), with all the pathologies showing a significant positive correlation to each other (P < 0.05). A combination of pathologies [area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve = 0.95 (0.88–1.00); P < 0.0001] was a better predictor of dementia than the severity of any single pathology. Additionally, cortical amyloid-β scores (r = −0.62; P = 0.043) and Braak tau stages (r = −0.52; P = 0.028), but not Lewy body scores (r = −0.25; P = 0.41) or Braak α-synuclein stages (r = −0.44; P = 0.13), significantly correlated with mini-mental state examination scores in the subset of cases with this information available within the last year of life (n = 15). High cortical amyloid-β score (P = 0.017) along with an older age at onset (P = 0.001) were associated with a shorter time-to-dementia period. A combination of Lewy- and Alzheimer-type pathologies is a robust pathological correlate of dementia in Parkinson’s disease, with quantitative and semi-quantitative assessment of Lewy pathology being more informative than Braak α-synuclein stages. Cortical amyloid-β and age at disease onset seem to determine the rate to dementia.
PMCID: PMC4194668  PMID: 21596773
lewy bodies; amyloid-β; tau; Parkinson’s disease; dementia
14.  Assessment of common variability and expression quantitative trait loci for genome-wide associations for progressive supranuclear palsy 
Neurobiology of Aging  2014;35(6):1514.e1-1514.e12.
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare parkinsonian disorder with characteristic neurofibrillary pathology consisting of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Common variation defining the microtubule associated protein tau gene (MAPT) H1 haplotype strongly contributes to disease risk. A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) revealed 3 novel risk loci on chromosomes 1, 2, and 3 that primarily implicate STX6, EIF2AK3, and MOBP, respectively. Genetic associations, however, rarely lead to direct identification of the relevant functional allele. More often, they are in linkage disequilibrium with the causative polymorphism(s) that could be a coding change or affect gene expression regulatory motifs. To identify any such changes, we sequenced all coding exons of those genes directly implicated by the associations in progressive supranuclear palsy cases and analyzed regional gene expression data from control brains to identify expression quantitative trait loci within 1 Mb of the risk loci. Although we did not find any coding variants underlying the associations, GWAS-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms at these loci are in complete linkage disequilibrium with haplotypes that completely overlap with the respective genes. Although implication of EIF2AK3 and MOBP could not be fully assessed, we show that the GWAS single-nucleotide polymorphism rs1411478 (STX6) is a strong expression quantitative trait locus with significantly lower expression of STX6 in white matter in carriers of the risk allele.
PMCID: PMC4104112  PMID: 24503276
PSP; GWAS; Quantitative trait loci; Sequencing; Haplotype; Linkage disequilibrium; Missense variant
15.  Bradykinesia-Akinesia Incoordination Test: Validating an Online Keyboard Test of Upper Limb Function 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e96260.
The Bradykinesia Akinesia Incoordination (BRAIN) test is a computer keyboard-tapping task that was developed for use in assessing the effect of symptomatic treatment on motor function in Parkinson's disease (PD). An online version has now been designed for use in a wider clinical context and the research setting.
Validation of the online BRAIN test was undertaken in 58 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 93 age-matched, non-neurological controls. Kinesia scores (KS30, number of key taps in 30 seconds), akinesia times (AT30, mean dwell time on each key in milliseconds), incoordination scores (IS30, variance of travelling time between key presses) and dysmetria scores (DS30, accuracy of key presses) were compared between groups. These parameters were correlated against total motor scores and sub-scores from the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).
Mean KS30, AT30 and IS30 were significantly different between PD patients and controls (p≤0.0001). Sensitivity for 85% specificity was 50% for KS30, 40% for AT30 and 29% for IS30. KS30, AT30 and IS30 correlated significantly with UPDRS total motor scores (r = −0.53, r = 0.27 and r = 0.28 respectively) and motor UPDRS sub-scores. The reliability of KS30, AT30 and DS30 was good on repeated testing.
The BRAIN test is a reliable, convenient test of upper limb motor function that can be used routinely in the outpatient clinic, at home and in clinical trials. In addition, it can be used as an objective longitudinal measurement of emerging motor dysfunction for the prediction of PD in at-risk cohorts.
PMCID: PMC4004565  PMID: 24781810
16.  Uncertainty about mapping future actions into rewards may underlie performance on multiple measures of impulsivity in behavioral addiction: Evidence from Parkinson’s disease 
Behavioral neuroscience  2013;127(2):245-255.
A subset of patients with Parkinson disease (PD) develops behavioral addictions, which may be due to their dopamine replacement therapy. Recently, several groups have been comparing PD patients with and without behavioral addictions on tasks that are thought to measure aspects of impulsivity. Several of these experiments, including information sampling, a bias towards novel stimuli and temporal discounting, have shown differences between PD patients with and without behavioral addictions. We have developed a unifying theoretical framework which allows us to model behavior in all three of these tasks. By exploring the performance of the patient groups on the three tasks with a single framework we can ask questions about common mechanisms that underlie all three. Our results suggest that the effects seen in all three tasks can be accounted for by uncertainty about the ability to map future actions into rewards. More specifically, the modeling is consistent with the hypothesis that the group with behavioral addictions behaves as if they cannot use information provided within the experimental context to improve future reward guided actions. Future studies will be necessary to more firmly establish (or refute) this hypothesis. We discuss this result in light of what is known about the pathology that underlies the behavioral addictions in the Parkinson patients.
PMCID: PMC3935250  PMID: 23565936
17.  Concomitant progressive supranuclear palsy and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a boxer 
We report the case of a 75-year-old ex-professional boxer who developed diplopia and eye movement abnormalities in his 60’s followed by memory impairment, low mood and recurrent falls. Examination shortly before death revealed hypomimia, dysarthria, vertical supranuclear gaze palsy and impaired postural reflexes. Pathological examination demonstrated 4-repeat tau neuronal and glial lesions, including tufted astrocytes, consistent with a diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy. In addition, neurofibrillary tangles composed of mixed 3-repeat and 4-repeat tau and astrocytic tangles in a distribution highly suggestive of chronic traumatic encephalopathy were observed together with limbic TDP-43 pathology. Possible mechanisms for the co-occurrence of these two tau pathologies are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3996066  PMID: 24559032
Boxer; Dementia pugilistica; Chronic traumatic encephalopathy; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Tauopathy
18.  Decision-making, impulsivity and addictions: Do Parkinson’s disease patients jump to conclusions? 
Links between impulsive compulsive behaviors in treated Parkinson’s disease, behavioral addictions and substance abuse have been postulated, but no direct comparisons have been carried out so far.
We directly compared patients with Parkinson’s disease with and without impulsive compulsive behaviors with illicit drug abusers, pathological gamblers and age-matched healthy controls using the beads task, a test of reflection impulsivity and a working memory task.
We found that all patients with Parkinson’s disease made more impulsive and irrational choices than the control group. Parkinson’s disease patients who had an impulsive compulsive behavior showed similar behavior to illicit substance abusers whereas patients without impulsive compulsive behaviors more closely resembled pathological gamblers. In contrast we found no difference in working memory performance within the Parkinson’s disease groups. However Parkinson’s disease patients without impulsive compulsive behaviors remembered distractors significantly less than all other patients during working memory tests.
We were able to correctly classify 96% of the Parkinson’s disease patients with respect to whether or not they had an impulsive compulsive behavior by analyzing 3 trials of the 80/20 loss condition of the beads task with a negative prediction value of 92.3% and we propose that this task may prove to be a powerful screening tool to detect an impulsive compulsive behavior in Parkinson’s disease. Our results also suggest that intact cortical processing and less distractibility in Parkinson’s disease patients without impulsive compulsive behaviors may protect them from developing behavioral addictions.
PMCID: PMC3412901  PMID: 22821557
Impulsive compulsive behavior; Parkinson’s disease; reflection impulsivity; pathological gambling; substance abuse; beads task
19.  Somatic mitochondrial DNA mutations in early Parkinson's and incidental Lewy body disease 
Annals of Neurology  2012;71(6):850-854.
Somatic mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are hypothesized to play a role in Parkinson disease (PD), but large increases in mtDNA mutations have not previously been found in PD, potentially because neurons with high mutation levels degenerate and thus are absent in late-stage tissue. To address this issue, we studied early stage PD cases and cases of incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD), which is thought to represent presymptomatic PD. We show for the first time that mtDNA mutation levels in substantia nigra (SN) neurons are significantly elevated in this group of early PD and ILBD cases.
PMCID: PMC3383820  PMID: 22718549
20.  Hypokinesia without decrement distinguishes progressive supranuclear palsy from Parkinson's disease 
Brain  2012;135(4):1141-1153.
Repetitive finger tapping is commonly used to assess bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease. The Queen Square Brain Bank diagnostic criterion of Parkinson's disease defines bradykinesia as ‘slowness of initiation with progressive reduction in speed and amplitude of repetitive action’. Although progressive supranuclear palsy is considered an atypical parkinsonian syndrome, it is not known whether patients with progressive supranuclear palsy have criteria-defined bradykinesia. This study objectively assessed repetitive finger tap performance and handwriting in patients with Parkinson's disease (n = 15), progressive supranuclear palsy (n = 9) and healthy age- and gender-matched controls (n = 16). The motion of the hand and digits was recorded in 3D during 15-s repetitive index finger-to-thumb tapping trials. The main finding was hypokinesia without decrement in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy, which differed from the finger tap pattern in Parkinson's disease. Average finger separation amplitude in progressive supranuclear palsy was less than half of that in controls and Parkinson's disease (P < 0.001 in both cases). Change in tap amplitude over consecutive taps was computed by linear regression. The average amplitude slope in progressive supranuclear palsy was nearly zero (0.01°/cycle) indicating a lack of decrement, which differed from the negative slope in patients with Parkinson's disease OFF levodopa (−0.20°/cycle, P = 0.002). ‘Hypokinesia’, defined as <50% of control group's mean amplitude, combined with ‘absence of decrement’, defined as mean positive amplitude slope, were identified in 87% of finger tap trials in the progressive supranuclear palsy group and only 12% in the Parkinson's disease OFF levodopa group. In progressive supranuclear palsy, the mean amplitude was not correlated with disease duration or other clinimetric scores. In Parkinson's disease, finger tap pattern was compatible with criteria-defined bradykinesia, characterized by slowness with progressive reduction in amplitude and speed and increased variability in speed throughout the tap trial. In Parkinson's disease, smaller amplitude, slower speed and greater speed variability were all associated with a more severe Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor score. Analyses of handwriting showed that micrographia, defined as smaller than 50% of the control group's mean script size, was present in 75% of patients with progressive supranuclear palsy and 15% of patients with Parkinson's disease (P = 0.022). Most scripts performed by patients with progressive supranuclear palsy did not exhibit decrements in script size. In conclusion, patients with progressive supranuclear palsy have a specific finger tap pattern of ‘hypokinesia without decrement’ and they do not have criteria-defined limb bradykinesia. Similarly, ‘micrographia’ and ‘lack of decrement in script size’ are also more common in progressive supranuclear palsy than in Parkinson's disease.
PMCID: PMC3326257  PMID: 22396397
hypokinesia; bradykinesia; repetitive finger tap; micrographia; progressive supranuclear palsy
21.  α-Synucleinopathy associated with G51D SNCA mutation: a link between Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy? 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;125(5):753-769.
We report a British family with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD) and a G51D SNCA mutation that segregates with the disease. Family history was consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance as both the father and sister of the proband developed levodopa-responsive parkinsonism with onset in their late thirties. Clinical features show similarity to those seen in families with SNCA triplication and to cases of A53T SNCA mutation. Post-mortem brain examination of the proband revealed atrophy affecting frontal and temporal lobes in addition to the caudate, putamen, globus pallidus and amygdala. There was severe loss of pigmentation in the substantia nigra and pallor of the locus coeruleus. Neuronal loss was most marked in frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampal CA2/3 subregions, substantia nigra, locus coeruleus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. The cellular pathology included widespread and frequent neuronal α-synuclein immunoreactive inclusions of variable morphology and oligodendroglial inclusions similar to the glial cytoplasmic inclusions of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Both inclusion types were ubiquitin and p62 positive and were labelled with phosphorylation-dependent anti-α-synuclein antibodies In addition, TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions were observed in limbic regions and in the striatum. Together the data show clinical and neuropathological similarities to both the A53T SNCA mutation and multiplication cases. The cellular neuropathological features of this case share some characteristics of both PD and MSA with additional unique striatal and neocortical pathology. Greater understanding of the disease mechanism underlying the G51D mutation could aid in understanding of α-synuclein biology and its impact on disease phenotype.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1096-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3681325  PMID: 23404372
Parkinson’s disease; Multiple system atrophy; α-Synuclein; SNCA
22.  Shell shock at Queen Square: Lewis Yealland 100 years on 
Brain  2013;136(6):1976-1988.
This article reviews the treatment of functional neurological symptoms during World War I by Lewis Yealland at the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic in London. Yealland was among the first doctors in Britain to incorporate electricity in the systematic treatment of shell shock. Our analysis is based on the original case records of his treatment of 196 soldiers with functional motor and sensory symptoms, functional seizures and somatoform disorders. Yealland’s treatment approach integrated peripheral and central electrical stimulation with a variety of other—psychological and physical—interventions. A combination of electrical stimulation of affected muscles with suggestion of imminent improvement was the hallmark of his approach. Although his reported success rates were high, Yealland conducted no formal follow-up. Many of the principles of his treatment, including the emphasis on suggestion, demonstration of preserved function and the communication of a physiological illness model, are encountered in current therapeutic approaches to functional motor and sensory symptoms. Yealland has been attacked for his use of electrical stimulation and harsh disciplinary procedures in popular and scientific literature during and after World War I. This criticism reflects changing views on patient autonomy and the social role of doctors and directly impacts on current debates on ethical justification of suggestive therapies. We argue that knowledge of the historical approaches to diagnosis and management of functional neurological syndromes can inform both aetiological models and treatment concepts for these challenging conditions.
PMCID: PMC3673538  PMID: 23384604
war; electrotherapy; history; psychogenic; movement disorders
23.  Olfactory Impairment in Familial Ataxias 
The main clinical manifestations of the spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) result from the involvement of the cerebellum and its connections. Cerebellar activity has been consistently observed in functional imaging studies of olfaction, but the anatomical pathways responsible for this connection have not yet been elucidated. Previous studies have demonstrated olfactory deficit in SCA2, Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and in small groups of ataxia of diverse etiology. We used a validated version of the 16 item smell identification test from Sniffin’ Sticks (SS-16) was used to evaluate 37 patients with genetically determined autosomal dominant ataxia, and 31 with familial ataxia of unknown genetic basis .This data was also compared to results in 106 Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and 218 healthy controls. The SS-16 score was significantly lower in ataxia than in the control group (p<0.001, 95%CI for β = 0.55 to 1.90) and significantly higher in ataxia than in PD (p<0.001, 95%CI for β = −4.58 to −3.00) when adjusted for age (p=0.001, 95%CI for β = −0.05 to −0.01), gender (p=0.19) and history of tobacco use (p=0.41). When adjusted for general cognitive function we found no significant difference between the ataxia and control group. Our study confirms previous findings of mild hyposmia in ataxia, and further suggests this may be due to general cognitive deficits rather than specific olfactory problems.
PMCID: PMC3521149  PMID: 22791905
Movement disorders; Smell; Cerebellar ataxia; Cerebellar degeneration; Cognition
24.  A comparative clinical, pathological, biochemical and genetic study of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies 
Brain  2011;134(9):2548-2564.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration are rare diseases characterized by ubiquitin-positive inclusions lacking transactive response DNA-binding protein-43 and tau. Recently, mutations in the fused in sarcoma gene have been shown to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal inclusions have subsequently been demonstrated in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions. Here we provide clinical, imaging, morphological findings, as well as genetic and biochemical data in 14 fused in sarcoma proteinopathy cases. In this cohort, the age of onset was variable but included cases of young-onset disease. Patients with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions all presented with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, while the clinical presentation in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease was more heterogeneous, including cases with motor neuron disease and extrapyramidal syndromes. Neuroimaging revealed atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes as well as the caudate in the cases with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, but was more heterogeneous in the cases with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, often being normal to visual inspection early on in the disease. The distribution and severity of fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and neurites were recorded and fused in sarcoma was biochemically analysed in both subgroups. Fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the hippocampal granule cell layer in variable numbers. Cortical fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions were often ‘Pick body-like’ in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, and annular and crescent-shaped inclusions were seen in both conditions. Motor neurons contained variable numbers of compact, granular or skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in all fused in sarcoma-positive cases in which brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons were available for study (five and four cases, respectively). No fused in sarcoma mutations were found in any cases. Biochemically, two major fused in sarcoma species were found and shown to be more insoluble in the atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions subgroup compared with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. There is considerable overlap and also significant differences in fused in sarcoma-positive pathology between the two subgroups, suggesting they may represent a spectrum of the same disease. The co-existence of fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in both motor neurons and extramotor cerebral structures is a characteristic finding in sporadic fused in sarcoma proteinopathies, indicating a multisystem disorder.
PMCID: PMC3170529  PMID: 21752791
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; clinical presentation; neuropathology; biochemistry
25.  Vascular endothelial growth factor is upregulated by l-dopa in the parkinsonian brain: implications for the development of dyskinesia 
Brain  2011;134(8):2339-2357.
Angiogenesis and increased permeability of the blood–brain barrier have been reported to occur in animal models of Parkinson’s disease and l-dopa-induced dyskinesia, but the significance of these phenomena has remained unclear. Using a validated rat model of l-dopa-induced dyskinesia, this study demonstrates that chronic treatment with l-dopa dose dependently induces the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in the basal ganglia nuclei. Vascular endothelial growth factor was abundantly expressed in astrocytes and astrocytic processes in the proximity of blood vessels. When co-administered with l-dopa, a small molecule inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor signalling significantly attenuated the development of dyskinesia and completely blocked the angiogenic response and associated increase in blood–brain barrier permeability induced by the treatment. The occurrence of angiogenesis and vascular endothelial growth factor upregulation was verified in post-mortem basal ganglia tissue from patients with Parkinson’s disease with a history of dyskinesia, who exhibited increased microvascular density, microvascular nestin expression and an upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor messenger ribonucleic acid. These congruent findings in the rat model and human patients indicate that vascular endothelial growth factor is implicated in the pathophysiology of l-dopa-induced dyskinesia and emphasize an involvement of the microvascular compartment in the adverse effects of l-dopa pharmacotherapy in Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3155708  PMID: 21771855
Parkinson’s disease; levodopa; D1 receptors; neuroplasticity; angiogenesis; blood–brain barrier

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