Prevalence of cerebrovascular lesions in Parkinson's disease. A postmortem study

Acta Neuropathol. 2003 May;105(5):415-9. doi: 10.1007/s00401-003-0676-3. Epub 2003 Feb 19.


Data on the relationship between Parkinson's disease (PD) and stroke have been conflicting, some studies showing a reduced risk of stroke during life, and others indicating an increased risk of stroke-related death. Consecutive cases (n=617) of autopsy-proven idiopathic PD (Lewy body disease of the brain stem type) and age-matched controls (n=535) were compared using current routine and immunohistochemical methods. The total frequency of cerebrovascular lesions (lacunes, amyloid angiopathy, white matter lesions, old and recent ischemic infarcts and hemorrhages) in PD (44.0%) was higher than in controls (32.8%), while acute, often fatal ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes were less frequent in parkinsonian patients (1.8% vs 2.6%). Like previous postmortem findings in a smaller cohort, these findings neither indicate a protective effect against stroke nor a greater susceptibility to death from stroke in the populations studied. Cognitive impairment in PD appears to be largely independent from coexistent vascular pathology except in cases with severe cerebrovascular lesions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Autopsy*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / classification
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Synucleins
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Synucleins
  • tau Proteins