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Effect of levodopa on cognitive function in Parkinson's disease with and without dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sophie Molloy, Dr Elise Rowan, Professor John O'Brien, Professor Ian McKeith, Professor David Burn

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Abstract

Background: Levodopa (L-dopa) is the gold standard treatment for Parkinson's disease, but a lack of clear efficacy combined with a perceived liability to neuropsychiatric side effects has limited L-dopa use in patients with parkinsonism and dementia. Therefore, the effect of L-dopa on the cognitive profile of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD) is unclear. Aim: To ascertain the acute and long-term effects of L-dopa on aspects of attention and cognition in patients with DLB and PDD, and to compare these with the effects in Parkinson's disease. Method: Baseline cognitive and motor function was assessed off L-dopa in patients with Parkinson's disease (n = 22), PDD (n = 27) and DLB (n = 11) using standard "bedside'' measures and a computerised programme detecting reaction times and accuracy. All patients then underwent an acute L-dopa challenge with subsequent subjective and objective analysis of alertness, verbal recall, reaction times and accuracy. The same parameters were measured after 3 months on L-dopa to assess the prolonged effect. Results: Acute L-dopa challenge considerably improved motor function and subjective alertness in all patients without compromising either reaction times or accuracy, but increased fluctuations were noted in both groups with dementia. Neuropsychiatric scores improved in patients with Parkinson's disease both with and without dementia on L-dopa at 3 months. Although patients with Parkinson's disease also had better mean global cognitive function at this time, mean verbal attention and memory deteriorated, and patients with PDD had slower reaction times in some tests. No patient had a marked deterioration over this time. Patients with DLB did not experience any adverse cognitive or neuropsychiatric effects after 3 months of L-dopa treatment. Conclusion: The use of L-dopa in patients with parkinsonism with dementia does not adversely affect cognitive function.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Molloy SA, Rowan EN, O'Brien JT, McKeith IG, Wesnes K, Burn DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

Year: 2006

Volume: 77

Issue: 12

Pages: 1323-1328

ISSN (print): 0022-3050

ISSN (electronic): 1468-330X

Publisher: BMJ Group

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp.2006.098079

DOI: 10.1136/jnnp.2006.098079


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