Background: Othello syndrome (OS) is an organic delusional disorder with prevailing jealousy symptoms presumably appearing as side effect of antiparkinsonian therapy. The clinical spectrum of psychiatric symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD) is very wide, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, with prevalent paranoid symptoms, agitation, delirium and sleep disorders. At our knowledge, just a few cases of patients with PD and OS were reported till now.
Methods: three neurologists working in a tertiary referral centre were asked to report cases of pathological jealousy as defined by the DSM IV criteria (Kaplan et al. 1994). The following data were collected retrospectively: sex, age at PD onset, age at OS onset, duration of PD, duration of PD treatment, duration of treatment with dopamine agonists (DAs), treatment of OS, past history of alcoholism, premorbid personality disorder, family history of psychiatric disorders and data about general cognitive condition.
Results: Five PD patients (three males) with OS were investigated. The mean age of the patients at the PD onset was 46.80+/-8.87 (SD), the mean age at the OS onset was 56.40+/-8.76 (SD). Before the onset of OS, all of them were taking dopamine agonists. The first patient was treated with pramipexole, apomorphine infusion and levodopa/carbidopa, the second with apomorphine infusion plus levodopa/carbidopa/entacapone, the third with pramipexole, the fourth and fifth with ropinirole. Decrease of dopamine agonist led to clinical improvement in three patients (complete reduction of the symptoms in two, reduction of symptoms in one patients). In two patients, the symptoms remained the same. In three patients atypical neuroleptics had to be added: clozapine in two and quetiapine in one patient.
Conclusions: We believe that OS is a more common psychiatric side effect in PD patients on treatment with dopamine agonists than usually believed, particulary in those with early disease onset. It is a very disturbing symptom for patients and their partners, often underestimated by them, and should therefore be actively searched for.