- Most patients with Parkinson disease (PD) have non-motor symptoms (NMS), and on average these can range from four to 19 different symptoms.
- NMS dominate the prodromal phase of PD and some may serve as clinical biomarkers of PD.
- NMS can be dopaminergic, non-dopaminergic, of genetic origin or drug induced.
- Clinical assessment of NMS should include the NMS Questionnaire (completed by patients) for screening, as recommended by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society and other international societies.
- The total number of NMS in a patient with PD constitutes the NMS burden, which can be graded using validated cut-off scores on the NMS Questionnaire and Scale and can be used as an outcome measure in clinical trials.
- Despite NMS burden having a major effect on the quality of life of patients and carers, a large European study showed that NMS are often ignored in the clinic.
- The syndromic nature of PD is underpinned by non-motor subtypes which are likely to be related to specific dysfunction of cholinergic, noradrenergic, serotonergic pathways in the brain, not just the dopaminergic pathways.
- NMS can be treated by dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic strategies, but further robust studies supported by evidence from animal models are required.
- The future of modern treatment of PD needs to be supported by the delivery of personalised medicine.
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