The onset of motor abnormalities in Parkinson's disease (PD) is usually unilateral. However, current therapeutic trials do not analyze separately the performance of the more affected (MA) and less affected (LA) limbs. From a cohort of 85 subjects at different stages of PD, we asked whether the relationship between bradykinesia and disease severity was similar on both limbs and if the MA side remained more bradykinetic than the LA side in advanced PD. MA and LA limb determination was made from the history of the side first affected. Twenty-one age-matched subjects were used as controls. The velocities of finger and arm movements on both sides were inversely correlated with disease severity (P < 0.03). The slope of the decline in wrist movement velocity was steeper on the LA side (P = 0.029). When the regression lines were extrapolated to the y-axis (UPDRS III = 0) the performance of the LA side was not different from that of controls (P = 0.954 and P = 0.829 for finger and arm movements, respectively), whereas that of the MA side was slower (P = 0.019 and P = 0.016), suggesting that at the theoretical state of no disease the LA side would reflect less or no contralateral nigral pathology. With increasing disease severity, there was less difference between MA and LA sides in both finger and arm bradykinesia (P < 0.004). These findings highlight the value of analyzing separately the MA and LA sides in subjects with PD, especially for clinical trials of potential disease modifying agents in early stages of disease.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mds.22741
View details for Web of Science ID 000271555700016
View details for PubMedID 19672996