Latest News in Parkinson Disease: Adapting Telehealth, Differentiating Parkinsonism and Tardive Dyskinesia, and More

An overview of the latest news in Parkinson disease reported across clinical research.

An overview of the latest news in Parkinson disease (PD) reported across clinical research.

Adapting Telehealth, Wearable Technologies in the Treatment of PD

In a recent study published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, researchers from the Southern Medical Program of the University of British Columbia Okanagan assessed the use of wearable health technology and telehealth in the treatment of patients with PD.

Twenty-five patients with PD experiencing either tremors or involuntary movements were split into 2 groups. One group’s follow-up care included telehealth and device-based tracking and the other group’s care was managed by traditional face-to-face appointments with symptom diaries. Patients of both groups presented with comparable baseline characteristics.

Due to early study suspension caused by COVID-19, the authors noted that findings had limited statistical significance, although patients of the telehealth group exhibited a greater reduction in the primary outcome of PD Quality of Life-39 Summary Index than those of the control group (−4.7 points vs +0.9 points). Discussing the study findings, the researchers said the integration of data from wearable devices allowed them to tailor a patient’s medication to better manage daily fluctuating symptoms.

Separating Tardive Dyskinesia From PD, Other Drug-Induced Movement Disorders

A recent article by NeurologyLive®, spotlighted differences between tardive dyskinesia (TD) and other drug-induced movement disorders. As the authors note, TD is characterized by involuntary choreiform or athetoid movements caused by exposure to dopamine receptor–blocking agents that persist for 4 to 8 weeks.

Compared with similar conditions whose symptoms improve through the removal or reduction of associated agents, such as neuroleptic-induced parkinsonism, removing the dopamine receptor–blocking agents was indicated to rarely completely reverse TD symptoms. The move may precipitate symptoms as well.

Diagnosis of TD has been associated with significant adverse effects related to quality of life and daily functioning, including impaired gait and posture, gastrointestinal function, speech, and respiration.


Evaluating Associations Between Mitochondria Recycling and PD Development

With prior research suggesting that development of sporadic PD, the most common form of PD, is associated with mitochondria, a recent study published in Science Advances delves further into the potential link. The researchers evaluated how the mitochondrial life cycle in neuronal cells is recycled.

In the study, researchers tracked the interaction between individual mitochondria in neurons and PINK1 and Parkin, 2 proteins that initiate the decomposition of damaged mitochondria in a process called mitophagy, through a combination of time-lapse microscopy, correlative light, and electron microscopy.

Similar to the traditional mitophagy process, the 2 proteins encircled damaged mitochondria and targeted them for degradation. However, instead of the mitochondria being broken down and built into new molecular cells, damaged Parkin-coated mitochondria fused with other components inside the cell to form mitochondria-degrading structures called mitolysosomes that survived for hours inside cells. The researchers noted that future studies will investigate how these pathways contribute to disease and how they can be targeted therapeutically.