Frequency of cholinergic and caudate nucleus dopaminergic deficits across the predemented cognitive spectrum of parkinson disease and evidence of interaction effects

Nicolaas I. Bohnen, Roger L. Albin, Martijn L.T.M. Müller, Myria Petrou, Vikas Kotagal, Robert A. Koeppe, Peter J.H. Scott, Kirk A. Frey

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69 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Little is known about the relative contributions of multisystem degenerative processes across the spectrum of predemented cognitive decline in Parkinson disease (PD).OBJECTIVE To investigate the relative frequency of caudate nucleus dopaminergic and forebrain cholinergic deficits across a spectrum of cognitively impaired patients with PD to explore their relative, individual, and combined contributions to cognitive impairment in PD.DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS A cross-sectional study at an academic movement disorders clinic that included a predominantly nondemented cohort of 143 patients with PD. The mean (SD) age of patients was 65.5 (7.4) years and the mean (SD) Hoehn and Yahr stage was 2.4 (0.6).MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Binary classification of carbon 11-labeled [11C]PMP acetylcholinesterase and caudate nucleus [11C]DTBZ monoaminergic positron-emission tomography imaging based on normative data. The frequency of significant degenerative processes based on normative values was determined for consecutive intervals of cognitive impairment, ranging from no or minimal (z <-0.5) to more severe (z ≤-2) cognitive impairment.RESULTS Across the spectrum from minimal (z >.0.5) to more severe (z ≤.2) global cognitive impairment scores, caudate nucleus dopaminergic denervation was relatively frequent in individuals with minimal or no cognitive changes (51.1%) and increased in patients with more severe cognitive impairments (χ2 = 12.8; P =.01). Cortical cholinergic denervation frequency increased monotonically with increasing cognitive impairment from 24.7% (z >.0.5) to 85.7%(z ≤.2); χ2 = 23.2; P =.001). Eighty-seven percent of patients with neocortical cholinergic deficits had caudate nucleus dopaminergic deficits. Multiple regression analysis (F = 7.51; P <.001) showed both independent cognitive predictions for caudate nucleus dopaminergic (F = 7.25; P =.008) and cortical cholinergic (F = 7.50; P =.007) degenerations as well as interaction effects (F = 5.40; P =.02).CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Cortical cholinergic denervation is a major neurodegeneration associated with progressive declines across the spectrum of cognitive impairment in PD and typically occurs in the context of significant caudate nucleus dopaminergic denervation. Our findings imply that dopaminergic and cholinergic degenerations exhibit both independent and interactive contributions to cognitive impairment in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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