Ventricular dilatation and brain atrophy in patients with Parkinson's disease with incipient dementia§


  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • The study was supported through an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

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    Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.


Age-related ventricular enlargement is accelerated in Alzheimer's disease, but its relationship to cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease is less clear, even though dementia is common in Parkinson's disease. Our goals were to determine if greater enlargement of the ventricles and gray or white matter atrophy occurred in Parkinson's disease patients developing cognitive decline. Older nondemented patients with Parkinson's disease (33) and age- and sex-matched controls (39) were recruited and prospectively assessed for the development of significant cognitive decline over 36 months. Magnetic resonance imaging was obtained every 18 months, and ventricular volume and total brain gray and white matter volumes were measured using reliable segmentation of T1-weighted volumetric scans. Subjects with incidental intracranial abnormalities, an atypical course, and stroke as well as dropouts were excluded from a cohort of 52 patients and 50 controls. Among 33 patients and 39 controls, 10 patients and 3 controls developed significant cognitive impairment or dementia. Ventricular change and Parkinson's disease status were significantly associated with dementia. Ventricular change was significantly correlated with change in Mini-Mental Status Examination in the Parkinson's disease with dementia group (r = 0.87, P = .001). Gray matter atrophy was greater in Parkinson's disease with dementia, with similar change over time in both Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease with dementia. White matter volumes were not significantly different between Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease with dementia; however, the decrease over time might be greater in Parkinson's disease with dementia. Ventricular dilatation occurs early in the course of significant cognitive decline in patients with Parkinson's disease, possibly reflecting both cortical gray and white matter loss. © 2011 Movement Disorder Society