Motor reorganization in asymptomatic carriers of a single mutant Parkin allele: a human model for presymptomatic parkinsonism
van Eimeren T
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Mutations in the Parkin gene are the most common known single cause of early-onset parkinsonism. It has been shown that asymptomatic carriers with a single mutant allele have latent presynaptic dopaminergic dysfunction in the striatum. Here we used functional MRI to map movement-related neuronal activity during internally selected or externally determined finger movements in 12 asymptomatic carriers of a Parkin mutation and 12 healthy non-carriers. Mean response times were 63 ms shorter during internally selected movements than during externally guided movements (P = 0.003). There were no differences in mean response times between groups (P > 0.2). Compared with externally determined movements, the internal selection of movements led to a stronger activation of rostral motor areas, including the rostral cingulate motor area (rCMA), rostral supplementary motor area, medial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. The genotype had a significant impact on movement-related activation patterns. Asymptomatic carriers showed a stronger increase in movement-related activity in the right rCMA and left dorsal premotor cortex, but only if movements relied on internal cues. In addition, synaptic activity in the rCMA had a stronger influence on activity in the basal ganglia in the context of internally selected movements in asymptomatic carriers relative to non-carriers. We infer that this reorganization of striatocortical motor loops reflects a compensatory effort to overcome latent nigrostriatal dysfunction.