Asymmetry of dopaminergic neurodegeneration and subsequent lateralisation of motor symptoms are distinctive features of Parkinson’s disease compared to other forms of neurodegenerative or symptomatic parkinsonism. Even 200 years after the first description of the disease, the underlying causes for this striking clinicopathological feature are not yet fully understood. There is increasing evidence that lateralisation of disease is due to a complex interplay of hereditary and environmental factors that are reflected not only in the concept of dominant hemispheres and handedness but also in specific susceptibilities of neuronal subpopulations within the substantia nigra. As a consequence, not only the obvious lateralisation of motor symptoms occurs but also patterns of associated non-motor signs are defined, which include cognitive functions, sleep behaviour or olfaction. Better understanding of the mechanisms contributing to lateralisation of neurodegeneration and the resulting patterns of clinical phenotypes based on bilateral post-mortem brain analyses and clinical studies focusing on right/left hemispheric symptom origin will help to develop more targeted therapeutic approaches, taking into account subtypes of PD as a heterogeneous disorder.
- Parkinson’s disease