Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders

Volume 70 of the series Journal of Neural Transmission. Supplementa pp 309-319

Parkinson’s disease: premotor clinico-pathological correlations

  • E. Ch. WoltersAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, VU University Medical Center
  • , H. BraakAffiliated withInstitute for Clinical Neuroanatomy, J.W. Goethe University

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Parkinsonism is a clinical syndrome characterized by bradykinesia, hypo-/akinesia, muscular rigidity, and resting tremor, mainly caused by Parkinson’s disease (PD). Progressive loss of nigral neurons with Lewy bodies is considered an essential neuropathological feature. Recent studies, however, indicate that nigral degeneration is only a part of this synucleinopathy, and clinical symptoms go far beyond motor parkinsonism. Olfactory disturbances, autonomic dysfunction, pain, sleep fragmentation, depression, and dementia with or without psychosis are frequently seen. The variability in the expression of these signs and symptoms suggests multiple causes and/or pathogeneses within the present diagnostic disease entity. In this article, a recently proposed staging of PD-related brain pathology will be correlated with the various clinical expressions. It will be argued that the specific topographical sequence of the pathology, depending on the extent and progression of the degenerative process at defined sites, may explain the individually variable expression of this disease.