Thalamic cholinergic innervation and postural sensory integration function in Parkinson's disease

1 Department of Radiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Brain (Impact Factor: 9.2). 09/2013; 136(11). DOI: 10.1093/brain/awt247
Source: PubMed


The pathophysiology of postural instability in Parkinson's disease remains poorly understood. Normal postural function depends in part on the ability of the postural control system to integrate visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular sensory information. Degeneration of cholinergic neurons in the brainstem pedunculopontine nucleus complex and their thalamic efferent terminals has been implicated in postural control deficits in Parkinson's disease. Our aim was to investigate the relationship of cholinergic terminal loss in thalamus and cortex, and nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation, on postural sensory integration function in Parkinson's disease. We studied 124 subjects with Parkinson's disease (32 female/92 male; 65.5 ± 7.4 years old; 6.0 ± 4.2 years motor disease duration; modified Hoehn and Yahr mean stage 2.4 ± 0.5) and 25 control subjects (10 female/15 male, 66.8 ± 10.1 years old). All subjects underwent (11)C-dihydrotetrabenazine vesicular monoaminergic transporter type 2 and (11)C-methylpiperidin-4-yl propionate acetylcholinesterase positron emission tomography and the sensory organization test balance platform protocol. Measures of dopaminergic and cholinergic terminal integrity were obtained, i.e. striatal vesicular monoaminergic transporter type 2 binding (distribution volume ratio) and thalamic and cortical acetylcholinesterase hydrolysis rate per minute (k3), respectively. Total centre of pressure excursion (speed), a measure of total sway, and sway variability were determined for individual sensory organization test conditions. Based on normative data, principal component analysis was performed to reduce postural sensory organization functions to robust factors for regression analysis with the dopaminergic and cholinergic terminal data. Factor analysis demonstrated two factors with eigenvalues >2 that explained 52.2% of the variance, mainly reflecting postural sway during sensory organization test Conditions 1-3 and 5, respectively. Regression analysis of the Conditions 1-3 postural sway-related factor [R(2)adj = 0.123, F(5,109) = 4.2, P = 0.002] showed that decreased thalamic cholinergic innervation was associated with increased centre of pressure sway speed (β = -0.389, t = -3.4, P = 0.001) while controlling for covariate effects of cognitive capacity and parkinsonian motor impairments. There was no significant effect of cortical cholinergic terminal deficits or striatal dopaminergic terminal deficits. This effect could only be found for the subjects with Parkinson's disease. We conclude that postural sensory integration function of subjects with Parkinson's disease is modulated by pedunculopontine nucleus-thalamic but not cortical cholinergic innervation. Impaired integrity of pedunculopontine nucleus cholinergic neurons and their thalamic efferents play a role in postural control in patients with Parkinson's disease, possibly by participating in integration of multimodal sensory input information.

41 Reads
  • Source
    • "In the current study, we use GABA-edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) (Mullins et al., 2014) to investigate this question. Aside from striatal structures, the thalamus has been suggested to play an important role in the processing of proprioceptive information (Lalonde and Strazielle, 2007; Müller et al., 2013). Moreover, thalamic structures are important for attentional orienting and featureintegration functions (e.g. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The selection of appropriate responses is a complex endeavor requiring the integration of many different sources of information in fronto-striatal-thalamic circuits. An often neglected but relevant piece of information is provided by proprioceptive inputs about the current position of our limbs. This study examines the importance of striatal and thalamic GABA levels in these processes using GABA-edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy (GABA-MRS) and a Simon task featuring proprioception-induced interference in healthy subjects. As a possible model of deficits in the processing of proprioceptive information, we also included Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients in this study. The results show that proprioceptive information about unusual postures complicates response selection processes in controls, but not in PD patients. The well-known deficits of PD patients in processing proprioceptive information can turn into a benefit when altered proprioceptive information would normally complicate response selection processes. Striatal and thalamic GABA levels play dissociable roles in the modulation of response selection processes by proprioceptive information: Striatal GABA levels seem to be important for the general speed of responding, most likely because striatal GABA promotes response selection. In contrast, the modulation of response conflict by proprioceptive information is closely related to thalamic GABA concentrations with higher concentration being related to a smaller response conflict effect. The most likely explanation for this finding is that the thalamus is involved in the integration of sensorimotor, attentional, and cognitive information for the purpose of response formation. Yet, this effect in the thalamus vanishes when controls and PD patients were analyzed separately.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · NeuroImage
  • Source
    • "Interestingly, aberrant synchrony has been observed in Parkinson's disease (Brown 2007). Our data with nicotine reveal a complementary role for nAChRs and the NALCN in the control of movement, and support the suggestion of Müller et al. (2013) "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mutations in various genes adversely affect locomotion in model organisms, and thus provide valuable clues about the complex processes that control movement. In C. elegans, loss-of-function mutations in the Na(+) leak current channel (NALCN) and associated proteins (UNC-79 and UNC-80) cause akinesia and fainting (abrupt freezing of movement during escape from touch). It is not known how defects in the NALCN induce these phenotypes or if they are chronic and irreversible. Here, we report that akinesia and freezing are state-dependent and reversible in NALCN-deficient mutants (nca-1;nca-2, unc-79 and unc-80) when additional cation channels substitute for this protein. Two main measures of locomotion were evaluated: spontaneous movement (traversal of > 2 head lengths during a 5 sec observation period) and the touch-freeze response (movement greater than 3 body bends in response to tail touch). Food deprivation for as little as 3 min stimulated spontaneous movement and corrected the touch-freeze response. Conversely, food-deprived animals that moved normally in the absence of bacteria rapidly reverted to uncoordinated movement when re-exposed to food. The effects of food deprivation were mimicked by nicotine, which suggested that acetylcholine mediated the response. Nicotine appeared to act on interneurons or motor neurons rather than directly at the neuromuscular junction because levamisole, which stimulates muscle contraction, did not correct movement. Neural circuits have been proposed to account for the effects of food deprivation and nicotine on spontaneous movement and freezing. The NALCN may play an unrecognized role in human movement disorders characterized by akinesia and freezing gait.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Genes Brain and Behavior
  • Source
    • "Falls in older adults and in PD arise from dysregulation and degeneration of multiple neuronal systems including, primarily and perhaps essentially , the basal forebrain cholinergic projection system and the striatal dopamine system. Falls in PD are also associated with loss of cholinergic projections from the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) in the brain stem (Bohnen et al., 2009b; Hirsch et al., 1987; Karachi et al., 2010; Muller et al., 2013; Pahapill and Lozano, 2000); however, the cognitive–behavioral contributions of the widespread, ascending and descending PPN cholinergic projections to gait, posture and complex movement control remain unclear and thus beyond the scope of the article. We propose that in the presence of sensorimotor risk factors for falls, reflecting the impact of loss of striatal dopamine, subjects with impaired basal forebrain cholinergic systems are impaired in the attentional control of gait, posture, movement and the detection of movement errors. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Falls are a major source of hospitalization, long-term institutionalization, and death in older adults and patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD). Limited attentional resources are a major risk factor for falls. In this review, we specify cognitive-behavioral mechanisms that produce falls and map these mechanisms onto a model of multi-system degeneration. Results from PET studies in PD fallers and findings from a recently developed animal model support the hypothesis that falls result from interactions between loss of basal forebrain cholinergic projections to the cortex and striatal dopamine loss. Striatal dopamine loss produces inefficient, low-vigor gait, posture control, and movement. Cortical cholinergic deafferentation impairs a wide range of attentional processes, including monitoring of gait, posture and complex movements. Cholinergic cell loss reveals the full impact of striatal dopamine loss on motor performance, reflecting loss of compensatory attentional supervision of movement. Dysregulation of dorsomedial striatal circuitry is an essential, albeit not exclusive, mediator of falls in this dual-system model. Because cholinergic neuromodulatory activity influences cortical circuitry primarily via stimulation of α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and because agonists at these receptors are known to benefit attentional processes in animals and humans, treating PD fallers with such agonists, as an adjunct to dopaminergic treatment, is predicted to reduce falls. Falls are an informative behavioral endpoint to study attentional-motor integration by striatal circuitry.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Experimental Neurology
Show more