University of Oulu

Autonomic dysfunction in Parkinson's disease and its correlates to medication and dopamine transporter binding

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Author: Haapaniemi, Tarja1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2001
Publish Date: 2001-04-17
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium 8 of the University Hospital of Oulu, on May 4th, 2001, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Seppo Kaakkola
Professor Reijo Marttila


Patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) may suffer from autonomic nervous system dysfunction even in the early phase of the disease. We assessed the autonomic cardiovascular and sudomotor regulation in de novo PD patients with and without medication. We also measured the dopamine (DAT) and serotonin transporter (SERT) uptake in the PD patients using 2β-carboxymethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)tropane (β-CIT) SPECT and studied the clinical correlates of the uptake. Sixty PD patients were included in the study and randomised to receive levodopa, bromocriptine or selegiline (n=20 in each) as their treatment. Thirty patients were examined with β-CIT SPECT. The results of the patients were compared with those of healthy controls and within the subgroups at different time points.

Cardiovascular autonomic regulation was assessed using standard cardiovascular reflex tests at baseline, after six months' medication and following a 6-week washout period. The heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) regulation was impaired in PD patients at baseline, and PD medications modified the responses further. Bromocriptine and selegiline, in contrast to levodopa, increased the orthostatic BP fall and suppressed the BP response to isometric exercise. The long-term cardiovascular autonomic function was evaluated from ambulatory ECG recordings by analysis of traditional spectral and non-spectral components of HR fluctuation together with two-dimensional vector analysis and power-law relationship analysis of the HR dynamics. All spectral measures and the slope of the power-law relationship demonstrated impaired tonic cardiovascular regulation in the PD patients.

Sympathetic sudomotor activity was evaluated using the sympathetic skin response (SSR). The major finding was suppression of the SSR amplitudes with an inverse correlation to clinical disability, whereas PD medication seemed to have only minor effects. The changes in amplitude and repetitiveness of the SSRs with normal adaptation suggest deficits at several levels of the SSR reflex arc.

DAT uptake, assessed by β-CIT SPECT, was diminished in the striatum and especially the putamen of the PD patients, and correlated with the results of the cardiovascular reflex tests and ambulatory ECG recordings. Simultaneous measurement of SERT binding demonstrated decreased SERT availability in the thalamic and frontal areas.

The results demonstrate disturbances of the reflectory and tonic cardiovascular autonomic regulation caused by PD itself. PD medications further modify the reflectory responses. The degenerative process in PD also involves the sympathetic sudomotor pathway. β-CIT SPECT provides a useful method for simultaneous assessment of DAT and SERT binding, demonstrating the deficit of serotonin metabolism in PD.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-5963-7
ISBN Print: 951-42-5962-9
Issue: 630
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2001. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.