Gastrointestinal Dysfunction and Neuropathologic Correlations in Parkinson Disease

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Abstract

Introduction:

Recently, an increasing interest to nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson disease (PD) has shown. Gastrointestinal dysfunction is a prominent nonmotor manifestation of PD and precedes motor symptoms for several years. Neuropathologic studies show early accumulation of α-synuclein (α-SYN) in Lewy neurites and Lewy body in the enteric nervous system (ENS) and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus in PD. Our study aims to investigate relationship between α-SYN deposition in ENS and gastrointestinal dysfunction in PD.

Materials and Methods:

We conducted a study in Neurology Department of Charles Nicolle Hospital of Tunis during 2 years (2013 to 2014) including PD patients. Clinical data were analyzed. Digestive endoscopy with biopsies of upper digestive tract (UDT) and immunohistochemistry study were performed.

Results:

Thirty patients (16♂/14♀) and 13 (7♂/6♀) controls were included. Average age was 65 years for patients and 63.5 years for controls. Gastrointestinal symptoms were the most frequent nonmotor symptoms occurring in 73%. Endoscopy showed motor dysfunction of upper digestive tract in 5 patients. Lesion load in α-SYN was significantly correlated with frequency and severity of gastrointestinal dysfunction and PD motor disability.

Conclusions:

Gastrointestinal disturbances are frequent in PD. ENS’s synucleinopathy could entirely explain pathophysiology of digestive dysfunction and is correlated with severity of gastrointestinal symptoms in PD. Biopsies may show α-SYN aggregates in immunoreactive Lewy neurites in the submucosal and myenteric plexus. Thus, endoscopic and immunohistochemical exploration of ENS may be a biomarker for Parkinson enteropathy and for PD overall.

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