Importance: Mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most common cause of genetic Parkinson disease (PD) known to date. The clinical features of manifesting LRRK2 mutation carriers are generally indistinguishable from those of patients with sporadic PD. However, some PD cases associated with LRRK2 mutations lack Lewy bodies (LBs), a neuropathological hallmark of PD. We investigated whether the presence or absence of LBs correlates with different clinical features in LRRK2-related PD.
Observations: We describe genetic, clinical, and neuropathological findings of 37 cases of LRRK2-related PD including 33 published and 4 unpublished cases through October 2013. Among the different mutations, the LRRK2 p.G2019S mutation was most frequently associated with LB pathology. Nonmotor features of cognitive impairment/dementia, anxiety, and orthostatic hypotension were correlated with the presence of LBs. In contrast, a primarily motor phenotype was associated with a lack of LBs.
Conclusions and relevance: To our knowledge, this is the first report of clinicopathological correlations in a series of LRRK2-related PD cases. Findings from this selected group of patients with PD demonstrated that parkinsonian motor features can occur in the absence of LBs. However, LB pathology in LRRK2-related PD may be a marker for a broader parkinsonian symptom complex including cognitive impairment.