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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 24

NPJ Parkinsons Dis



Gastrointestinal involvement in Parkinson’s disease: pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management.


Warnecke T, Schäfer K-H, Claus I, Del Tredici K, Jost WH
NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2022 Mar 24; 8(1):31.
PMID: 35332158.


Growing evidence suggests an increasing significance for the extent of gastrointestinal tract (GIT) dysfunction in Parkinson's disease (PD). Most patients suffer from GIT symptoms, including dysphagia, sialorrhea, bloating, nausea, vomiting, gastroparesis, and constipation during the disease course. The underlying pathomechanisms of this α-synucleinopathy play an important role in disease development and progression, i.e., early accumulation of Lewy pathology in the enteric and central nervous systems is implicated in pharyngeal discoordination, esophageal and gastric motility/peristalsis impairment, chronic pain, altered intestinal permeability and autonomic dysfunction of the colon, with subsequent constipation. Severe complications, including malnutrition, dehydration, insufficient drug effects, aspiration pneumonia, intestinal obstruction, and megacolon, frequently result in hospitalization. Sophisticated diagnostic tools are now available that permit more detailed examination of specific GIT impairment patterns. Furthermore, novel treatment approaches have been evaluated, although high-level evidence trials are often missing. Finally, the burgeoning literature devoted to the GIT microbiome reveals its importance for neurologists. We review current knowledge about GIT pathoanatomy, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment in PD and provide recommendations for management in daily practice.