Backgrounds: Leukoaraiosis may present with slowly progressive parkinsonism indistinguishable from primary degenerative parkinsonism. Both leukoaraiosis and degenerative parkinsonism are an age-related disorder. Thus, comorbidity is expected to be common in elderly patients with parkinsonism. However, no systematic study has been reported on the clinical features indicating concomitant nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation (NDD) in parkinsonian patients with leukoaraiosis. Methods: We performed [18F] FP-CIT positron emission tomography studies in 42 consecutive parkinsonian patients with diffuse leukoaraiosis, but no basal ganglia vascular lesions. Results: Twenty (48%) of the 42 patients had coexisting NDD. Compared to parkinsonian patients with isolated leukoaraiosis, those with coexisting NDD more frequently had asymmetric onset. They had similar degree of parkinsonian motor deficits in the legs, but greater rigidity and resting tremor in the arms. Consequently, they had less prominent lower body parkinsonism. They more frequently showed favorable response to levodopa treatment. They had similar burden of regional and total leukoaraiosis. Among a variety of clinical variables and MRI findings, only asymmetric onset and more than 30% improvement in UPDRS motor score by levodopa treatment were valuable indicators of coexisting NDD. Conclusions: We would like to recommend dopaminergic functional imaging studies for all parkinsonian patients with leukoaraiosis. Further studies are needed to confirm sensitivity and specificity of asymmetric onset and good levodopa response for the prediction of coexisting NDD in a different group of parkinsonian patients with leukoaraiosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Clinical Neurology