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Mov Disord. 2016 Aug;31(8):1095-102. doi: 10.1002/mds.26510. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Nonmotor features of Parkinson's disease subtypes.

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Toronto Western Hospital Morton and Gloria Shulman Mov Disord Centre and the Edmond J. Safra Program in PD, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence, Kings College Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham; and Kings College and Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


Parkinson's disease is highly heterogeneous in early clinical features and later outcomes. This makes classifying subgroups of PD relevant to clinical research and practice, particularly if they are prognostically relevant. Subgroups have been defined both on the basis of motor and nonmotor features, and subgroups have been determined either empirically, based on clinical observation, or using data-driven analytic techniques. Previous studies have examined both the overall number and the nature of nonmotor symptoms and signs in tremor-dominant compared with non-tremor-dominant subtypes, and longitudinal studies identify nonmotor symptoms as important markers of prognosis and important defining features of PD subtypes. Autonomic features seem to preferentially affect individuals with non-tremor-dominant PD subtype early in the disease. Later in the disease cognitive disturbance distinguishes this phenotype. Pathological and neuroimaging studies provide substantial evidence for fundamental biological differences between tremor-dominant and postural instability gait disorder/akinetic-rigid subtypes. Biomarker studies point toward non-tremor-dominant PD as representing more advanced and diffuse neurodegeneration than tremor-dominant PD, encompassing dopaminergic and nondopaminergic as well as synuclein and nonsynuclein (Abeta) pathologies. This aligns with clinical studies that find a higher burden of nonmotor symptoms in non-tremor-dominant PD. The mounting evidence for the relevance of nonmotor features in PD subtypes behooves us to begin to investigate the biological underpinnings of subtypes defined by both motor and nonmotor features. This may be challenging, as PD subtypes are unlikely to be distinct nonoverlapping entities but are more likely to represent typical phenotypes within a multidimensional spectrum resulting from variable contributions of a number of simultaneous pathological processes.


Parkinson's disease; nonmotor symptoms; prognosis; subtypes

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