Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients show cognitive deficits that are relevant in terms of prognosis and quality of life. Degeneration of striatal dopaminergic afferents proceeds from dorsal/caudal to anterior/ventral and is discussed to account for some of these symptoms. Treatment with dopamine (DA) has differential effects on cognitive dysfunctions, improving some and worsening others. We hypothesized that cognitive performance during the dopaminergic OFF state correlates with DAT availability in the associative striatum. 16 PD patients underwent motor and cognitive examination ON and OFF DA. Global cognition was measured using the Montréal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test and executive functioning using a Stroop test. Nigrostriatal dopaminergic innervation was characterized with [123I]FP-CIT SPECT. A connectivity atlas of the striatum was used to assess DAT availability in functionally defined striatal subregions. Correlations between imaging data and behavioral data OFF medication were calculated. Correlations between DAT availability and MoCA performance in the dopaminergic OFF state was strongest in the associative part of the striatum (r = 0.674, p = 0.004). MoCA test performance did not differ between the ON and the OFF state. There was no correlation of DAT availability with Stroop performance in the OFF state but performance was significantly better during the ON state. Not only motor but also cognitive dysfunctions in PD are associated with striatal dopaminergic depletion. Cognitive decline in non-demented PD patients goes along with nigrostriatal degeneration, most pronounced in the associative subdivision of the striatum. In addition, the present findings suggest that executive dysfunctions are ameliorated by DA whereas global cognition is not improved by dopaminergic medication.
Journal of Neural Transmission – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 22, 2017
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