Gait function and locus coeruleus Lewy body pathology in 51 Parkinson's disease patients

Kelly A. Mills, Zoltan Mari, Catherine Bakker, Vanessa Johnson, Gregory M. Pontone, Alexander Pantelyat, Juan C. Troncoso, Olga Pletnikova, Ted M. Dawson, Liana S. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction Gait impairment in Parkinson's Disease (PD) is often severely disabling, yet frequently remains refractory to treatment. The locus coeruleus (LC) has diffuse noradrenergic projections that are thought to play a role in gait function. Enhancement of norepinephrine transmission may improve gait in some PD patients. We hypothesized that the severity of PD pathology, and more specifically, Lewy bodies and neuronal loss in the LC, would correlate with the severity of gait dysfunction in PD. Methods Autopsy data from 51 patients, collected through the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center, were correlated with clinical gait-related measures, including individual Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part II and III questions, total UPDRS Part III scores, and timed up-and-go speed (TUG). Results Neither the presence nor degree of Lewy body pathology in the LC on autopsy was associated with a higher UPDRS part III gait score. LC tau deposition and frontal Lewy body deposition were not correlated with any of the assessed gait measures. The degree of Lewy body pathology, independent of Braak stage, was positively associated with the severity of motor symptoms overall (UPDRS Part III total score). Conclusion Neither the degree of Lewy body nor tau pathology in the LC is associated with severity of gait disorders in PD. This finding may have implications for targeted noradrenergic therapies in patients with refractory gait disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-106
Number of pages5
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Autopsy
  • Gait
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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