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Scientists identify 2 distinct Parkinson's networks

MANHASSET, NY The disease that causes tremors, rigidity and slowed movements in a million Americans also targets another brain network that regulates cognitive thought and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. David Eidelberg, MD, head of the Center for Neurosciences at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and his colleagues measured and quantified this network of brain regions during a five-year study of newly diagnosed Parkinsons patients who agreed to be followed several times over the course of the study. This is the first longitudinal study of Parkinsons disease using a brain scan to follow these Parkinsons network over time. The new report appears in an online version in the journal Brain, and will be published soon in a print version.

The technology is now precise enough to diagnose the two brain networks one that regulates movement and the other cognition in individuals, and Dr. Eidelberg said that it could be used to assess the degenerative disease process and the persons response to treatments. The study also shows that the standard drugs used to treat Parkinsons alter the areas that are involved in movement but not those that regulate cognition. The network that grows abnormal over time includes an called the pre-frontal cortex, known as the brains executive secretary; organizing, planning and carrying out tasks in order of importance. Its the same region that is hard-hit in mild cognitive impairment, the precursor to Alzheimers dementia. But Eidelberg said that the symptoms in the two diseases are quite different. But thinking that medicines used for Alzheimers might help normalize this network, the scientists gave Parkinsons patients eight weeks of treatment. It didnt work.

We really dont know precisely whats going on in this newly-identified network, but we can begin to ask questions and figure it out, said Dr. Eidelberg.We dont even know whether this network can be fixed.

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Contact: Jamie Talan
jtalan@nshs.edu
516-562-1232
North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System
9-Jul-2007


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