Weight Loss in Early Parkinson Linked to Cognitive Decline

Weight loss in early Parkinson’s disease (PD) is associated with a decline in cognitive function, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in Neurology.

Ryul Kim, M.D., from Inha University School of Medicine in Korea, and colleagues used data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative cohort to examine whether early weight change is associated with subsequent deterioration in cognitive function in PD. For up to eight years of follow-up, patients underwent annual nonmotor assessments covering neuropsychiatric, sleep-related, and autonomic symptoms. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and detailed neuropsychological testing were used to measure cognitive function.

A total of 358 early PD patients were classified into weight loss (decrease of >3 percent body weight during the first year; 98 patients), weight maintenance (within ±3 percent; 201 patients), and weight gain (increase of >3 percent; 59 patients) groups. The researchers found that compared with the weight maintenance group, the weight loss group had a significantly faster decline in MoCA scores. With respect to specific cognitive domains, steeper declines were seen in the semantic fluency test score and MoCA phonemic fluency scores and, to a lesser extent, Letter-Number Sequencing scores for the weight loss group versus the weight maintenance group. A slower decline in the Symbol-Digit Modalities Test score was seen in the weight gain group, although no correlation was seen with longitudinal changes in MoCA scores.

“These findings highlight the potential importance of weight management in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease,” one coauthor said in a statement.

The study was partially funded by the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, which has biopharmaceutical companies as funding partners.

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