Progression of motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease
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- Xia, R. & Mao, ZH. Neurosci. Bull. (2012) 28: 39. doi:10.1007/s12264-012-1050-z
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease that is clinically manifested by a triad of cardinal motor symptoms — rigidity, bradykinesia and tremor — due to loss of dopaminergic neurons. The motor symptoms of PD become progressively worse as the disease advances. PD is also a heterogeneous disease since rigidity and bradykinesia are the major complaints in some patients whereas tremor is predominant in others. In recent years, many studies have investigated the progression of the hallmark symptoms over time, and the cardinal motor symptoms have different rates of progression, with the disease usually progressing faster in patients with rigidity and bradykinesia than in those with predominant tremor. The current treatment regime of dopamine-replacement therapy improves motor symptoms and alleviates disability. Increasing the dosage of dopaminergic medication is commonly used to combat the worsening symptoms. However, the drug-induced involuntary body movements and motor complications can significantly contribute to overall disability. Further, none of the currently-available therapies can slow or halt the disease progression. Significant research efforts have been directed towards developing neuroprotective or disease-modifying agents that are intended to slow the progression. In this article, the most recent clinical studies investigating disease progression and current progress on the development of disease-modifying drug trials are reviewed.