Dementia associated with Parkinson's disease

Lancet Neurol. 2003 Apr;2(4):229-37. doi: 10.1016/s1474-4422(03)00351-x.


Dementia affects about 40% of patients with Parkinson's disease; the incidence of dementia in these patients is up to six times that in healthy people. Clinically, the prototype of dementia in PD is a dysexecutive syndrome. Loss of cholinergic, dopaminergic, and noradrenergic innervation has been suggested to be the underlying neurochemical deficits. Nigral pathology alone is probably not sufficient for the development of dementia. Although there is some controversy with regard to the site and type of pathology involved, dementia is likely to be associated with the spread of pathology to other subcortical nuclei, the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex. On the basis of more recent studies, the main pathology seems to be Lewy-body-type degeneration with associated cellular and synaptic loss in cortical and limbic structures. Alzheimer's disease-type pathology is commonly associated with dementia but less predictive. Recent evidence from small studies suggests that cholinesterase inhibitors may be effective in the treatment of dementia associated with PD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / etiology*
  • Dementia / pathology*
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy