Age-associated striatal dopaminergic denervation and falls in community-dwelling subjects

Nicolaas I. Bohnen, Martijn L.T.M. Muller, Hiroto Kuwabara, Rakié Cham, Gregory M. Constantine, Stephanie A. Studenski

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22 Scopus citations


Older adults have a high prevalence of gait and balance disturbances and falls. Normal aging is associated with significant striatal dopaminergic denervation, which might be a previously unrecognized additional contributor to geriatric falls. This study investigated the relationship between the severity of age-associated striatal dopaminergic denervation (AASDD) and falls in community-dwelling subjects. Community-dwelling subjects who did not have a clinical diagnosis to explain falls (n = 77: 43 female, 34 male; mean age 61.4 +/- 16.4; range 20-85) completed clinical assessment and brain dopamine transporter (DAT) [11C]beta-CFT (2-beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4- fluorophenyl) tropane) positron emission tomography imaging followed by 6 months of prospective fall monitoring using diaries. Results showed a significant inverse relationship between striatal DAT activity and age (r = -0.82, p < 0.001). A total of 26 subjects (33.8%) reported at least one fall, with 5 subjects (6.5%) reporting two or more falls. While no significant difference was noted in striatal DAT activity between nonfallers (n = 51) and fallers (n = 26; f = 0.02, not significant), striatal DAT activity was modestly reduced in the small subgroup of recurrent fallers compared with the other subjects (f = 5.07, p < 0.05). Findings indicate that AASDD does not explain isolated self-reported falls in community-dwelling subjects. However, it may be a contributing factor in the small subgroup of subjects with recurrent falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1045-1052
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


  • Age-associated striatal dopaminergic denervation
  • Aging
  • Basal ganglia
  • Dopamine transporter
  • Fall diary
  • Falls
  • Nigrostriatal
  • Parkinson
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Recurrent falls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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