Parkinson disease subtypes

JAMA Neurol. 2014 Apr;71(4):499-504. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.6233.


Importance: It is increasingly evident that Parkinson disease (PD) is not a single entity but rather a heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorder.

Objective: To evaluate available evidence, based on findings from clinical, imaging, genetic and pathologic studies, supporting the differentiation of PD into subtypes.

Evidence review: We performed a systematic review of articles cited in PubMed between 1980 and 2013 using the following search terms: Parkinson disease, parkinsonism, tremor, postural instability and gait difficulty, and Parkinson disease subtypes. The final reference list was generated on the basis of originality and relevance to the broad scope of this review.

Findings: Several subtypes, such as tremor-dominant PD and postural instability gait difficulty form of PD, have been found to cluster together. Other subtypes also have been identified, but validation by subtype-specific biomarkers is still lacking.

Conclusions and relevance: Several PD subtypes have been identified, but the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the observed clinicopathologic heterogeneity in PD are still not well understood. Further research into subtype-specific diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers may provide insights into mechanisms of neurodegeneration and improve epidemiologic and therapeutic clinical trial designs.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Movement Disorders / classification*
  • Movement Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Movement Disorders / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / classification*
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Tremor / classification*
  • Tremor / diagnosis*
  • Tremor / genetics


  • Biomarkers