Reduction of parkinsonian signs in patients with Parkinson's disease by dopaminergic versus anticholinergic single-dose challenges



We investigated the effect of an anticholinergic (biperiden) and a dopamine agonist (apomorphine) on tremor, rigidity, and akinesia in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. In a standardized, crossover study design 17 patients received single-dose challenges of 5 mg biperiden intravenously and a previously determined dose of apomorphine subcutaneously on 2 consecutive days. Resting (RT), postural (PT), and action tremor (AT) were assessed using spectral analysis of accelerometer data, and Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores for rigidity and akinesia were determined before and after administration of the study drug. Both single-dose challenges significantly reduced the amplitude of RT, PT, and AT, but only apomorphine significantly reduced UPDRS scores for rigidity and akinesia. In only one patient was tremor reduced by the dopamine agonist but not by the anticholinergic. We found that anticholinergic and dopaminergic agents are both effective in reducing tremor in IPD, and there was no evidence for a selective anticholinergic responsiveness of parkinsonian tremor. Akinesia and rigidity, on the other hand, were not improved by biperiden. We therefore conclude that dopaminergic substances are as effective as anticholinergics in patients with parkinsonian tremor and additionally improve other parkinsonian signs.