Behavioral disorders in Parkinson's disease: From pathophysiology to the mastery of dopaminergic treatment.

Summary of "Behavioral disorders in Parkinson's disease: From pathophysiology to the mastery of dopaminergic treatment."

Behavioral changes in Parkinson's disease are complex and their pathophysiology is not yet fully understood. The dopaminergic system seems to play a major role and most of the behavioral disorders in Parkinson's disease can be classified into either hypodopaminergic if related to the disease itself or hyperdopaminergic if related to dopaminergic treatment. STATE OF THE
Subthalamic stimulation, which enables withdrawal of dopaminergic medication at an advanced stage in the disease, provides a model for the study of certain nonmotor, dopamine-sensitive symptoms. Such a study has shown that apathy, which is the most frequent behavioral problem in Parkinson's disease, is part of a much broader hypodopaminergic behavioral syndrome which also includes anxiety and depression. Nonmotor fluctuations - essentially fluctuations in the patient's psychological state - are an expression of mesolimbic denervation, as shown in positron emission tomography. Drug-induced sensitization of the denervated mesolimbic system accounts for hyperdopaminergic behavioral problems that encompass impulse control disorders that can be alternatively classified as behavioral addictions. The association of impulse control disorders and addiction to the dopaminergic medication has been called dopamine dysregulation syndrome. While L-dopa is the most effective treatment for motor symptoms, dopamine agonists are more effective in improving the nonmotor levodopa-sensitive symptoms. On the other hand, L-dopa induces more motor complications and dopamine agonist more behavioral side effects. There is increasing data and awareness that patients' quality of life appears to be dictated by hypo- and hyperdopaminergic psychological symptoms stemming from mesolimbic denervation and dopaminergic treatment rather than by motor symptoms and motor complications related to nigrostriatal denervation and dopaminergic treatment.
Better management requires knowledge of the clinical syndromes of hyper- and hypodopaminergic behaviors and nonmotor fluctuations, a better understanding of their underlying mechanisms and the development of new evaluation tools for these nonmotor symptoms.
The neurologist who strives to gain mastery of dopaminergic treatment needs to fine tune the dosage of levodopa and dopamine agonists on an individual basis, depending on the presence of motor and nonmotor signs respectively.


Service de neurologie C, université Lyon-I, hospices civils, hôpital neurologique Pierre-Wertheimer, 69500 Bron, France.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Revue neurologique
ISSN: 0035-3787


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A group of disorders which feature impaired motor control characterized by bradykinesia, MUSCLE RIGIDITY; TREMOR; and postural instability. Parkinsonian diseases are generally divided into primary parkinsonism (see PARKINSON DISEASE), secondary parkinsonism (see PARKINSON DISEASE, SECONDARY) and inherited forms. These conditions are associated with dysfunction of dopaminergic or closely related motor integration neuronal pathways in the BASAL GANGLIA.

A condition caused by the neurotoxin MPTP which causes selective destruction of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons. Clinical features include irreversible parkinsonian signs including rigidity and bradykinesia (PARKINSON DISEASE, SECONDARY). MPTP toxicity is also used as an animal model for the study of PARKINSON DISEASE. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1072; Neurology 1986 Feb;36(2):250-8)

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A dopaminergic neurotoxic compound which produces irreversible clinical, chemical, and pathological alterations that mimic those found in Parkinson disease.

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