Matthew is an associate editor of The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®). He has been working on AJMC® since 2019 after receiving his Bachelor's degree at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in journalism and economics.
The top 5 most-read Parkinson disease stories of 2020 on AJMC.com included the latest insights on treatments such as spinal cord stimulation and the role of dietary management, as well as implications of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
The top 5 most-read Parkinson disease (PD) stories of 2020 on AJMC.com included the latest insights this year on the efficacy of treatments such as spinal cord stimulation, as well as the role of dietary management in the treatment paradigm.
The significance of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for these patients was also addressed, with 2 of our top 5 stories examining whether dementia and hypertension may increase risk of COVID-19 mortality in patients with PD (PwP) and how COVID-19 may prove a significant threat for PwP as they are now tasked with adapting to the physical and mental effects of the pandemic.
On a more clinical note, 1 of our stories highlighted findings indicating that switching off a “master regulator” of the epigenome called TET2 may protect the brain from the inflammatory damage and neurodegeneration caused by PD.
Here are the top 5 PD articles of 2020.
5. Dementia, Hypertension Linked to COVID-19 Mortality in Parkinson Disease
Although PD has not been indicated as a comorbidity linked with severe COVID-19 outcomes, researchers of a study published in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders sought to compare the mortality rate between the general population and those with the condition, as well as what comorbidities may increase risk of COVID-19 mortality among PwP. In their findings, a greater mortality rate was seen in with PwP than those without the condition, and hypertension, dementia, and PD duration were all linked with a greater risk of COVID-19 mortality in PwP.
4. Switching Off Influential Enzyme May Shield Brain From Parkinson-Related Damage
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers sought to assess whether PD pathogenesis may involve the epigenetic control of enhancers that alter neuronal functions. They found that those with PD were characterized by overactive TET2, an enzyme responsible for managing the types of chemical marks that annotate DNA and affect gene activity. By switching off this “master regulator,” researchers say this may then protect the brain from the inflammatory damage and neurodegeneration caused by PD.
3. Spinal Cord Stimulation Found to Reduce Pain, Motor Symptoms in Parkinson Disease
In addressing the current gold standard of treatment for PD, dopamine and deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy, researchers of a study published in Bioelectronic Medicine highlight that both approaches have their limitations and lose efficacy over time. As an alternate therapy linked with alleviating both motor and nonmotor symtoms in PD, the investigators found that spinal cord stimulation can work as both a singular therapy and as a salvage therapy after DBS therapies prove ineffective.
2. What Benefits Can Dietary Management Provide Patients With Parkinson Disease?
To manage a complex disorder such as PD, diet may play a significant role, as a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition highlights that those with PD are at an increased risk of malnutrition, various gastrointestinal and sensory deficits, and food-drug interactions. In assessing knowledge of food-drug interaction between dietary proteins and levodopa, the majority of PwP claimed to be aware. However, only 18.2% of study participants took all doses of levodopa out of meals, signaling a gap in knowledge.
1. How Are Patients With Parkinson Disease Faring Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Beyond the physical threat of COVID-19, researchers of a study published in the Journal of Parkinson Disease note that several less visible, but still potentially grave, consequences of the pandemic, referenced as “hidden sorrows,” threaten the livelihood and health of PwP. Notably, the stark transition to staying at home necessitates flexible adaptation, a cognitive operation that requires normal dopaminergic functioning. As PwP experience cognitive and motor inflexibility characterized by dopamine depletion, researchers note that this impaired ability of patients to successfully cope with their new circumstances may cause a sense of loss of control and increased psychological stress.