Pyridostigmine bromide versus fludrocortisone in the treatment of orthostatic hypotension in Parkinson's disease - a randomized controlled trial

Eur J Neurol. 2017 Apr;24(4):545-551. doi: 10.1111/ene.13260. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Background and purpose: Evidence for effective treatment options for orthostatic hypotension (OH) in Parkinson's disease (PD) is scarce. Elevation of cholinergic tone with pyridostigmine bromide has been reported as a way to improve blood pressure (bp) regulation in neurogenic hypotension without causing supine hypertension.

Methods: This was a double-centre, double-blind, randomized, active-control, crossover, phase II non-inferiority trial of pyridostigmine bromide for OH in PD ( NCT01993680). Patients with confirmed OH were randomized to 14 days 3 × 60 mg/day pyridostigmine bromide or 1 × 0.2 mg/day fludrocortisone before crossover. Outcome was measured by peripheral and central bp monitoring during the Schellong manoeuvre and questionnaires.

Results: Thirteen participants were enrolled between April 2013 and April 2015 with nine participants completing each trial arm. Repeated measures comparison showed a significant 37% improvement with fludrocortisone for the primary outcome diastolic bp drop on orthostatic challenge (baseline 22.9 ± 13.6 vs. pyridostigmine bromide 22.1 ± 17.0 vs. fludrocortisone 14.0 ± 12.6 mmHg; P = 0.04), whilst pyridostigmine bromide had no effect. Fludrocortisone caused an 11% peripheral systolic supine bp rise (baseline 128.4 ± 12.8 vs. pyridostigmine bromide 130.4 ± 18.3 vs. fludrocortisone 143.2 ± 10.1 mmHg; P = 0.01) but no central mean arterial supine bp rise (baseline 107.2 ± 7.8 vs. pyridostigmine bromide 97.0 ± 12.0 vs. fludrocortisone 107.3 ± 6.3 mmHg; P = 0.047). Subjective OH severity, motor score and quality of life remained unchanged by both study interventions.

Conclusions: Pyridostigmine bromide is inferior to fludrocortisone in the treatment of OH in PD. This trial provides first objective evidence of the efficacy of 0.2 mg/day fludrocortisone for OH in PD, causing minor peripheral but no central supine hypertension. In addition to peripheral bp, future trials should include central bp measurements, known to correlate more closely with cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Schellong test; baroreflex; central blood pressure; cholinergic tone; orthostatic challenge; supine hypertension.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Equivalence Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fludrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Fludrocortisone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / complications
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / drug therapy*
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide / pharmacology
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Pyridostigmine Bromide
  • Fludrocortisone

Associated data