Prevalence and Risk Factors of Peripheral Neuropathy in Parkinson's Disease

Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2022 Nov-Dec;25(6):1109-1115. doi: 10.4103/aian.aian_669_22. Epub 2022 Dec 3.


Introduction: A lesser studied aspect of Parkinson's disease (PD) is its associated peripheral sensory-motor neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is an intriguing aspect of PD, a problem not given sufficient attention and which if tackled properly could make a difference to the multifaceted sufferings of the PD patient. Studies regarding the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy and its risk factors in patients with PD are scarce from the Indian subcontinent.

Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted in a tertiary care teaching hospital in South India. Patients diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) were screened and enrolled. All the patients underwent detailed evaluation of symptoms, signs, and electrophysiology (Nerve conduction study, Sympathetic skin response), stimulated skin wrinkling with Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics. Patients found to have large/small fiber neuropathy underwent additional tests to exclude other causes of neuropathy.

Results: A total of 154 patients with IPD were enrolled in the study (mean age: 61.96 ± 9.15 years, mean duration of disease was 4.08 ± 3.16 years). The mean Hoehn and Yahr (H and Y) score was 2.3 ± 0.825 and the mean Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)-3 score in the ON state was 23.07 ± 11.14. The mean cumulative levodopa dose was 482.68 ± 651.76 (median: 292; range: 4728.57) grams. Peripheral neuropathy was found in 49 patients (31.8%), large fiber in 28 (18.2%) and small fiber in 47 (30.5%); an overlap of large and small fiber neuropathy was seen in 26 patients (16.9%). Around 34% of patients had serum homocysteine levels >20 mg/dl. In univariate analysis, duration of disease, levodopa cumulative dose, serum homocysteine level, H and Y score, UPDRS-3 ON score, Toronto Clinical Neuropathy Score (P < 0.001 for all), age at presentation, and rigidity predominant presentation (P = 0.02 for both) were associated with large fiber neuropathy. All of these variables were also associated with the presence of small fiber neuropathy (P = 0.004 for age at presentation and P < 0.001 for rest), except the type of PD presentation. However, in multivariate logistic regression analysis, only duration of disease, levodopa cumulative dose, and H and Y score were associated with the presence of large and small fiber neuropathy.

Conclusions: In our cohort, majority of the patients were in early-stage PD and around one-fifth and one-third of patients suffer from large and small fiber polyneuropathy, respectively. Large and small fiber neuropathy in PD is mainly associated with duration of disease, levodopa cumulative dose, and H and Y score.

Keywords: Large fiber neuropathy; Parkinson's disease; levodopa; neurodegenerative disease; peripheral neuropathy; small fiber neuropathy.