Unique Brain Deficits in Comorbid Parkinson’s and Depression

Parkinson’s (PD) usually affects people later in life and causes significant impairment to daily functioning, cognitive ability, and motor skills. One of the most common comorbid symptoms that occurs with PD is depression, which can exacerbate the condition and lead to a diminished quality of life for those with PD. Although it has been shown that depression is common with PD, understanding why and how to identify early signs of depression in PD is still unclear.

Therefore, Xuyun Wen of the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at Beijing Normal University in China recently conducted resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a sample of 33 participants with PD, 17 of which also had depression. Wen compared the MRIs to those of 21 individuals who had neither PD nor depression.

The results revealed that there was abnormal activity in specific brain regions of the individuals with PD/depression when compared to the other participants. In particular, the prefrontal limbic network showed lower levels of activity in these subjects. Wen pointed out that existing research on depression has shown similar impairments in depressed individuals without PD. But this new finding suggests sheds light on the neurological mechanisms occurring in PD with respect to depression. Additionally, if these neurological indicators can identify those at risk for depression they could allow clinicians to provide early interventions for individuals with PD and potentially improve their outcomes.

Overall, Wen believes these results show that using low-frequency testing and brain imaging during resting states is an effective way to evaluate neurological indicators of depression in clients with PD. Wen added, “Our study not only advances the knowledge of depression in PD but also provides a new insight into the underlying neural mechanism behind the high rate of depression in PD patients.”

Reference:
Wen, X., Wu, X., Liu, J., Li, K., Yao, L. (2013). Abnormal baseline brain activity in non-depressed Parkinson’s disease and depressed Parkinson’s disease: A resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63691. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063691

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  • nate

    nate

    June 12th, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    It is always so interesting to learn how certain things go together. I thought that maybe people who started to experience Parkinson’s would become depressed just because of how the disease starts to eat away at their day to day lives. I have not given it any thought that there could actually be something neurological that could cause this relationship in some Parkinsons patients.

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