Circuit Mechanisms of Parkinson's Disease

Neuron. 2019 Mar 20;101(6):1042-1056. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.03.004.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex, multi-system neurodegenerative disorder. The second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer's disease, it affects approximately 1% of adults over age 60. Diagnosis follows the development of one or more of the core motor features of the disease, including tremor, slowing of movement (bradykinesia), and rigidity. However, there are numerous other motor and nonmotor disease manifestations. Many PD symptoms result directly from neurodegeneration; others are driven by aberrant activity patterns in surviving neurons. This latter phenomenon, PD circuit dysfunction, is an area of intense study, as it likely underlies our ability to treat many disease symptoms in the face of (currently) irreversible neurodegeneration. This Review will discuss key clinical features of PD and their basis in neural circuit dysfunction. We will first review important disease symptoms and some of the responsible neuropathology. We will then describe the basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit, the major locus of PD-related circuit dysfunction, and some of the models that have influenced its study. We will review PD-related changes in network activity, subdividing findings into those that touch on the rate, rhythm, or synchronization of neurons. Finally, we suggest some critical remaining questions for the field and areas for new developments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*