Profiling cognitive and neuropsychiatric heterogeneity in Parkinson's disease

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a highly heterogeneous disease, in which motor symptom subtypes are often-described. While it is recognized that motor, cognitive and affective neuropsychiatric symptoms negatively influence the patients’ quality of life, it is currently unknown how these symptoms contribute to phenotypic subtypes. The objective of this study was to assess subtypes of motor, cognitive and affective symptoms in PD.

A hierarchical cluster analysis was conducted on clinical data of 226 PD patients screened at the VU University Medical Center using comprehensive assessment of cognitive, affective and motor symptoms. Subsequent linear discriminant analyses were conducted to investigate discriminating constructs between clusters.

The cluster analysis yielded four clusters: (1) a young-age (59.9 years), mildly affected cluster (N = 86), (2) an old-age (72.3 years) cluster with severe motor and non-motor symptoms (N = 15), (3) a cluster (age 64.7 years) with mild motor symptoms, below-average executive functioning and affective symptoms (N = 46) and (4) a cluster (age 64.8 years) with severe motor symptoms, affective symptoms and below-average verbal memory (N = 79).

Cluster 1 and 2 seem to represent opposite ends of the PD disease stages. Patients in clusters 3 and 4 had similar age, educational level and disease duration but different symptom profiles – we therefore suggest that these clusters represent different pathways of disease progression, presumably with distinct underlying pathology localization. Future research on the neuropathophysiological characteristics of these two clusters and monitoring of disease progression is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-136
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

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