Atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe: a common risk factor for two closely related phenotypes?

Brain. 2007 Mar;130(Pt 3):816-27. doi: 10.1093/brain/awl347. Epub 2007 Feb 15.


In Guadeloupe, there is an abnormally high frequency of atypical parkinsonism. Only one-third of the patients that develop parkinsonian symptoms were reported to present the classical features of idiopathic Parkinson disease and one-third a syndrome resembling progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). The others were unclassifiable, according to established criteria. We carried out a cross-sectional study of 160 parkinsonian patients to: (i) define more precisely the clinical phenotypes of the PSP-like syndrome and the parkinsonism that was considered unclassifiable in comparison with previously known disorders; (ii) define the neuropsychological and brain imaging features of these patients; (iii) evaluate to what extent a candidate aetiological factor, the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor annonacin contained in the fruit and leaves of the tropical plant Annona muricata (soursop) plays a role in the neurological syndrome. Neuropsychological tests and MRI were used to classify the patients into those with Parkinson's disease (31%), Guadeloupean PSP-like syndrome (32%), Guadeloupean parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC, 31%) and other parkinsonism-related disorders (6%). Patients with a PSP-like syndrome developed levodopa-resistant parkinsonism, associated with early postural instability and supranuclear oculomotor dysfunction. They differed, however, from classical PSP patients by the frequency of tremor (>50%), dysautonomia (50%) and the occurrence of hallucinations (59%). PDC patients had levodopa-resistant parkinsonism associated with frontosubcortical dementia, 52% of these patients had hallucinations, but, importantly, none had oculomotor dysfunction. The pattern of neuropsychological deficits was similar in both subgroups. Cerebral atrophy was seen in the majority of the PSP-like and PDC patients, with enlargement of the third ventricle and marked T2-hypointensity in the basal ganglia, particularly the substantia nigra. Consumption of soursop was significantly greater in both PSP-like and PDC patients than in controls and Parkinson's disease patients. In conclusion, atypical Guadeloupean parkinsonism comprises two forms of parkinsonism and dementia that differ clinically by the presence of oculomotor signs, but have similar cognitive profiles and neuroimaging features, suggesting that they may constitute a single disease entity, and both were similarly exposed to annonaceous neurotoxins, notably annonacin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Annonaceae
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / pathology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Guadeloupe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnosis
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / epidemiology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology