, Volume 120, Issue 3, pp 413-422
Date: 19 Aug 2012

Functional evaluation of central cholinergic circuits in patients with Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behavior disorder: a TMS study

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Central cholinergic dysfunction has been reported in patients with Parkinsonʼs disease (PD) and hallucinations by evaluating short latency afferent inhibition (SAI), a transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol which gives the possibility to test an inhibitory cholinergic circuit in the human brain. REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) was also found to be associated with cognitive impairment in PD patients. The objective of the study was to assess the cholinergic function, as measured by SAI, in PD patients with RBD (PD-RBD) and PD patients without RBD (PD-nRBD). We applied the SAI technique in 10 PD-RBD patients, in 13 PD-nRBD patients and in 15 age-matched normal controls. All PD patients and control subjects also underwent a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. Mean SAI was significantly reduced in PD-RBD patients when compared with PD-nRBD patients and controls. Neuropsychological examination showed mild cognitive impairment in 9 out of the 10 PD-RBD patients, and in 5 out of the 13 PD-nRBD. SAI values correlated positively with neuropsychological tests measuring episodic verbal memory, executive functions, visuoconstructional and visuoperceptual abilities. Similar to that previously reported in the idiopathic form of RBD, SAI abnormalities suggest a cholinergic dysfunction in PD patients who develop cognitive impairment, and present findings indicate that RBD is an important determinant of MCI in PD.