Minimal parkinsonism in the elderly is associated with striatal dopamine loss and pontine structural damage

Seok Jong Chung, Han Soo Yoo, Yang Hyun Lee, Young H. Sohn, Byoung Seok Ye, Jungho Cha, Phil Hyu Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: To investigate whether neurodegeneration underlying Parkinson's disease (PD) accounts for a substantial proportion of cases of minimal parkinsonism in the elderly. Methods: We recruited 48 consecutive subjects with minimal parkinsonism who visited the clinic with cognitive complaints. All subjects did not show findings compatible with PD on 18F-FP-CIT PET scans, and had no evidence of other neurodegenerative disorders. Striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) availability was quantified, and mean diffusivity (MD) values in the pons were calculated to characterize structural damage using diffusion tensor imaging. Additionally, 35 patients with PD and 21 healthy controls were included as reference groups. Results: Individuals with minimal parkinsonism (mean age, 73.23 ± 7.03 years) exhibited mild decrease in DAT availability in the posterior putamen, which was at a level between that of healthy controls and patients with PD. DAT availability in the caudate and anterior putamen was also mildly decreased in the minimal parkinsonism group. Individuals with minimal parkinsonism also tended to have higher MD values in the pons compared to healthy controls. Conclusions: Our results suggest that a substantial proportion of minimal parkinsonism is associated with nigrostriatal dopamine depletion and pontine structural damage, which may be related to the disease process of prodromal PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-143
Number of pages4
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (grant number: NRF-2019R1A2C2085462 ) and the Ministry of Education (grant number: NRF-2018R1D1A1B07048959 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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