Prefrontal Cortex Activity and Gait in Parkinson's Disease With Cholinergic and Dopaminergic Therapy

Samuel Stuart, Rosie Morris, Andrew Giritharan, Joseph Quinn, John G. Nutt, Martina Mancini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Degradation of striatal dopamine in Parkinson's disease (PD) may initially be supplemented by increased cognitive control mediated by cholinergic mechanisms. Shift to cognitive control of walking can be quantified by prefrontal cortex activation. Levodopa improves certain aspects of gait and worsens others, and cholinergic augmentation influence on gait and prefrontal cortex activity remains unclear. This study examined dopaminergic and cholinergic influence on gait and prefrontal cortex activity while walking in PD. A single-site, randomized, double-blind crossover trial examined effects of levodopa and donepezil in PD. Twenty PD participants were randomized, and 19 completed the trial. Participants were randomized to either levodopa + donepezil (5 mg) or levodopa + placebo treatments, with 2 weeks with treatment and a 2-week washout. The primary outcome was change in prefrontal cortex activity while walking, and secondary outcomes were change in gait and dual-task performance and attention. Levodopa decreased prefrontal cortex activity compared with off medication (effect size, −0.51), whereas the addition of donepezil reversed this decrease. Gait speed and stride length under single- and dual-task conditions improved with combined donepezil and levodopa compared with off medication (effect size, 1 for gait speed and 0.75 for stride length). Dual-task reaction time was quicker with levodopa compared with off medication (effect size, −0.87), and accuracy improved with combined donepezil and levodopa (effect size, 0.47). Cholinergic therapy, specifically donepezil 5 mg/day for 2 weeks, can alter prefrontal cortex activity when walking and improve secondary cognitive task accuracy and gait in PD. Further studies will investigate whether higher prefrontal cortex activity while walking is associated with gait changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2019-2027
Number of pages9
JournalMovement Disorders
Volume35
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Parkinson's disease
  • cognition
  • gait
  • prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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