Indexed on: 17 May '11Published on: 17 May '11Published in: Journal of the Neurological Sciences
Parkinson disease (PD) is a multisystem neurodegenerative disorder clinically characterized by motor and non-motor (NM) symptoms. The causes of NM symptoms in PD, many of which antedating motor dysfunction, are multifocal and unlikely explained by single lesions. They include olfactory, autonomic, sensory, skin, sleep, visual, neuropsychiatric, and other manifestations. Most NM features in PD are related to α-synuclein pathology which, in addition to the dopaminergic striatonigral system, involves non-nigral brainstem nuclei, sympathetic, parasympathetic, enteric and pelvic plexuses, cardiac systems, submandibular gland, adrenal medulla, skin, retina, and other visceral organs. This suggests a topographical and chronological spread of lesions, particularly in the prodromal stages of the disease, which, however, awaits further confirmation. A few animal models are available that recapitulate NM symptoms in human PD, but their validity is under discussion. More studies are warranted to refine the exact correlations between presymptomatic and late-developing NM features of PD and α-synuclein pathology as a basis for more effective preventive and therapeutic options of this devastating disease.