More men than women are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), and a number of gender differences have been documented in this disorder. Examples of clinical characteristics that appear in men more often than women include rigidity and rapid eye movement behavior disorder, whereas more women than men exhibit dyskinesias and depression. Differences between men and women in cognition have not been extensively examined, though there are reports of deficits in men in aspects of cognition that contribute to activities of daily living, in verbal fluency, and in the recognition of facial emotion, and deficits in women in visuospatial cognition. Side of disease onset may interact with gender to affect cognitive abilities. One possible source of male-female differences in the clinical and cognitive characteristics of PD is the effect of estrogen on dopaminergic neurons and pathways in the brain. This effect is not yet understood, as insight into how the fluctuation of estrogen over the lifetime affects the brain is currently limited. Further attention to this area of research will be important for accurate assessment and better management of PD. Attention should also be directed to multiple covariates that may affect clinical characteristics and cognition. Knowledge about differences in the presentation of PD symptoms in men and women and about the pathophysiology underlying those differences may enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of clinical assessment and treatment of the disease.
© 2010 Movement Disorder Society.