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Does cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction contribute to fatigue in Parkinson's disease?§


  • Funding agencies: This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan and the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare of Japan.

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

  • §

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


Patients with Parkinson's disease often complain of fatigue, and although cardiac sympathetic denervation is thought to be associated with fatigue, this link remains unclear. Previously, we detected cardiac sympathetic denervation in patients with Parkinson's disease using dobutamine, a selective beta-1 stimulant. To clarify the involvement of autonomic dysfunction in fatigue in Parkinson's disease, we conducted autonomic function tests on 33 patients with Parkinson's disease (mean age, 66.1 ± 5.6 years; 20 men, 13 women) and evaluated their relationships to fatigue. We divided patients into 2 groups, fatigued (n = 12) and nonfatigued (n = 21), based on an average score ≥ 3.3 on the Parkinson fatigue scale. Autonomic function tests included the coefficient of variation of R–R intervals, head-up tilt test, norepinephrine and dobutamine infusion tests, and cardiac 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy. The coefficient of variation of R–R intervals and the systolic blood pressure changes accompanying the head-up tilt test did not show significant differences between the 2 groups; however, the pressor responses in the norepinephrine and dobutamine infusion tests were significantly greater in the fatigued group than in the nonfatigued group. The 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine heart-to-mediastinal uptake ratio was lower in the fatigued group than in the nonfatigued group. Partial correlation analyses, using disease duration and Hoehn and Yahr stage as control variables, also demonstrated significant correlations between the Parkinson fatigue scale score and the results of the autonomic function tests and cardiac 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine uptake. Our results suggest that autonomic dysfunction, including cardiac sympathetic denervation, is associated with fatigue in patients with Parkinson's disease. © 2011 Movement Disorder Society

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