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Mov Disord. 2014 Aug;29(9):1118-24. doi: 10.1002/mds.25929. Epub 2014 Jun 7.

Extra-nigral pathological conditions are common in Parkinson's disease with freezing of gait: an in vivo positron emission tomography study.

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Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Neurology Service and GRECC, VAAAHS, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Cholinergic denervation has been associated with falls and slower gait speed and β-amyloid deposition with greater severity of axial motor impairments in Parkinson disease (PD). However, little is known about the association between the presence of extra-nigral pathological conditions and freezing of gait (FoG). Patients with PD (n = 143; age, 65.5 ± 7.4 years, Hoehn and Yahr stage, 2.4 ± 0.6; Montreal Cognitive Assessment score, 25.9 ± 2.6) underwent [(11) C]methyl-4-piperidinyl propionate acetylcholinesterase and [(11) C]dihydrotetrabenazine dopaminergic PET imaging, and clinical, including FoG, assessment in the dopaminergic "off" state. A subset of subjects (n = 61) underwent [(11) C]Pittsburgh compound-B β-amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Normative data were used to dichotomize abnormal β-amyloid uptake or cholinergic deficits. Freezing of gait was present in 20 patients (14.0%). Freezers had longer duration of disease (P = 0.009), more severe motor disease (P < 0.0001), and lower striatal dopaminergic activity (P = 0.013) compared with non-freezers. Freezing of gait was more common in patients with diminished neocortical cholinergic innervation (23.9%, χ(2)  = 5.56, P = 0.018), but not in the thalamic cholinergic denervation group (17.4%, χ(2)  = 0.26, P = 0.61). Subgroup analysis showed higher frequency of FoG with increased neocortical β-amyloid deposition (30.4%, Fisher Exact test: P = 0.032). Frequency of FoG was lowest with absence of both pathological conditions (4.8%), intermediate in subjects with single extra-nigral pathological condition (14.3%), and highest with combined neocortical cholinopathy and amyloidopathy (41.7%; Cochran-Armitage trend test, Z = 2.63, P = 0.015). Within the group of freezers, 90% had at least one of the two extra-nigral pathological conditions studied. Extra-nigral pathological conditions, in particular the combined presence of cortical cholinopathy and amyloidopathy, are common in PD with FoG and may contribute to its pathophysiology.


PET; Parkinson's disease; acetylcholine; dopamine; gait freezing; β-amyloid

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