To use a combined neurogenetic-neuroimaging approach to examine the functional consequences of preclinical dopaminergic nigrostriatal dysfunction in the human motor system. Specifically, we examined how a single heterozygous mutation in different genes associated with recessively inherited Parkinson disease alters the cortical control of sequential finger movements.
Nonmanifesting individuals carrying a single heterozygous Parkin (n = 13) or PINK1 (n = 9) mutation and 23 healthy controls without these mutations were studied with functional MRI (fMRI). During fMRI, participants performed simple sequences of three thumb-to-finger opposition movements with their right dominant hand. Since heterozygous Parkin and PINK1 mutations cause a latent dopaminergic nigrostriatal dysfunction, we predicted a compensatory recruitment of those rostral premotor areas that are normally implicated in the control of complex motor sequences. We expected this overactivity to be independent of the underlying genotype.
Task performance was comparable for all groups. The performance of a simple motor sequence task consistently activated the rostral supplementary motor area and right rostral dorsal premotor cortex in mutation carriers but not in controls. Task-related activation of these premotor areas was similar in carriers of a Parkin or PINK1 mutation.
Mutations in different genes linked to recessively inherited Parkinson disease are associated with an additional recruitment of rostral supplementary motor area and rostral dorsal premotor cortex during a simple motor sequence task. These premotor areas were recruited independently of the underlying genotype. The observed activation most likely reflects a “generic” compensatory mechanism to maintain motor function in the context of a mild dopaminergic deficit.
= blood oxygen level–dependent;
= cingulate motor area;
= false discovery rate;
= functional MRI;
= hemodynamic response function;
= intraparietal sulcus;
= primary motor hand area;
= Parkinson disease;
= dorsal premotor cortex;
= supplementary motor area;
= statistical parametric mapping;
= small volume correction;
= echo time;
= transcranial magnetic stimulation;
= repetition time;
= volumes of interest.