Background The mechanism underlying non-motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease has not yet been elucidated. In this study, we hypothesized that Parkinson patients with more non-motor symptoms have a different pattern of striatal dopamine depletion, particularly in areas other than the sensorimotor striatum, compared to those with fewer non-motor symptoms. Methods We conducted a prospective survey of the degree of non-motor symptoms (using the Korean version of the Non-Motor Symptoms Scale; K-NMSS) in 151 patients with earlystage Parkinson's disease who had undergone a dopamine transporter PET scan as an initial diagnostic procedure. We classified the patients into two groups; high non-motor patients (HNM-PD; K-NMSS score ≥ 41) and low non-motor patients (LNM-PD). Results Patients in the HNM-PD group (n = 71) were older, had longer symptom duration, exhibited more severe motor deficits, and had been prescribed higher levodopa-equivalent doses at follow-up than those in the LNM-PD group. However, dopamine transporter binding to the striatal sub-regions and inter-sub-regional binding ratios were comparable between the two groups. A general linear model showed that the HNM-PD group had significantly more severe motor deficits than the LNM-PD group after controlling for age, gender, symptom duration, and dopamine transporter binding to the sensorimotor striatum. Conclusions This study demonstrated that the pattern of striatal dopamine depletion does not contribute to early non-motor burden in Parkinson's disease. Our results suggest that LNM-PD patients may have a more benign course of motor symptom progression than HNM-PD patients.
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© 2016 Chung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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