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Anticholinesterase effect on motor kinematic measures and brain activation in Parkinson's disease



Anticholinesterase (AChE) drugs are being prescribed off label for nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD). Theoretically, these drugs can impair motor function. A small literature suggests AChE therapy has little effect on clinical motor evaluation; however, no study has made objective motor kinematic measures or evaluated brain function. We hypothesized that even if clinical examination was normal in PD patients on dopamine therapy, (1) sensitive kinematic measures would be abnormal during AChE therapy or (2) normal kinematic measures would be maintained by compensatory brain activation. We carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 8 weeks donepezil (10 mg/day) in 17 PD subjects. Subjects carried out a computerized motor task during a positron emission tomography (PET) scan before starting the drug and again after 8 weeks of donepezil or placebo. Kinematic measures of motor function and PET scans were analyzed to compare the effects of donepezil and placebo. Neither placebo nor donepezil altered motor kinematic measures. Furthermore, movement integrity while on donepezil was maintained without compensatory brain activity. Donepezil 10 mg/day can be given for nonmotor symptoms in PD without adverse motor effects or compensatory brain activity. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society