Brain-first vs. body-first Parkinson's disease: An update on recent evidence

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We recently proposed a new disease model of Parkinson's disease - the a-Synuclein Origin site and Connectome model. The model posits that the initial pathology starts either in the olfactory bulb or amygdala leading to a brain-first subtype, or in the enteric nervous system leading to a body-first subtype. These subtypes should be distinguishable early in the disease course on a range of imaging, clinical, and neuropathological markers. Here, we review recent original human studies, which tested the predictions of the model. Molecular imaging studies were generally in agreement with the model, whereas structural imaging studies, such as MRI volumetry, showed conflicting findings. Most large-scale clinical studies were supportive, reporting clustering of relevant markers of the body-first subtype, including REM-sleep behavior disorder, constipation, autonomic dysfunction, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and cognitive impairment. Finally, studies of a-synuclein deposition in antemortem and postmortem tissues revealed distribution of pathology, which generally supports the model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106101
JournalParkinsonism & Related Disorders
Pages (from-to)106101
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Biomarkers
  • Imaging
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Subtypes


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