BACKGROUND: The hypothesis of body-first vs. brain-first subtype of PD has been proposed with REM-Sleep behavior disorder (RBD) defining the former. The body-first PD presumes an involvement of the brainstem in the pathogenic process with higher burden of autonomic dysfunction.
OBJECTIVE: To identify distinctive clinical subtypes of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (iPD) in line with the formerly proposed concept of body-first vs. brain-first subtypes in PD, we analyzed the presence of probable RBD, sex, and the APOE ɛ4 carrier status as potential sub-group stratifiers.
METHODS: A total of 400 iPD patients were included in the cross-sectional analysis from the baseline dataset with a completed RBD Screening Questionnaire (RBDSQ) for classifying as pRBD by using the cut-off RBDSQ≥6. Multiple regression models were applied to explore (i) the effects of pRBD on clinical outcomes adjusted for disease duration and age, (ii) the effect of sex on pRBD, and (iii) the association of APOE ɛ4 and pRBD.
RESULTS: iPD-pRBD was significantly associated with autonomic dysfunction (SCOPA-AUT), level of depressive symptoms (BDI-I), MDS-UPDRS I, hallucinations, and constipation, whereas significantly negatively associated with quality of life (PDQ-39) and sleep (PDSS). No significant association between sex and pRBD or APOE ɛ4 and pRBD in iPD was found nor did we determine a significant effect of APOE ɛ4 on the PD phenotype.
CONCLUSION: We identified an RBD-specific PD endophenotype, characterized by predominant autonomic dysfunction, hallucinations, and depression, corroborating the concept of a distinctive body-first subtype of PD. We did not observe a significant association between APOE ɛ4 and pRBD suggesting both factors having an independent effect on cognitive decline in iPD.