Parkinson Disease and Normal Aging

“Our principal component analyses showed a significant relationship between centro-cingulate cholinergic afferent changes and age in our Parkinson disease subjects.”

BUFFALO, NY- November 1, 2023 – A new research perspective was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as “Aging (Albany NY)” and “Aging-US” by Web of Science) Volume 15, Issue 20, entitled, “Cholinergic centro-cingulate network in Parkinson disease and normal aging.”

In their new perspective, researchers Nicolaas I. Bohnen, Sygrid van der Zee and Roger Albin from University of Michigan, Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System, University of Groningen, and the University Medical Center Groningen discussed Parkinson disease (PD). Decreased cholinergic binding within the recently identified centro-cingulate brain network has been shown to robustly correlate with the severity of cognitive impairment in PD. This network with key hubs within the cingulum, operculum and peri-central cortical regions also correlates with elements of parkinsonian motor impairments, including postural instability and gait difficulties, such as falls or freezing. 

“We recently reported novel data-driving findings suggesting that cholinergic innervation deficits in centro-cingulate brain regions may be an important contributor to cognitive impairments in PD [1].”

MRI neuroimaging studies have shown that the anterior midcingulate cortex is a key node for cognitive aspects of movement generation, i.e., intentional motor control. Recent evidence also suggests a novel aspect of organization of primary motor cortex, describing “effector” regions for fine movement control intercalated with interlinked “inter-effector” regions devoted to whole-body control. 

A distinguishing feature of inter-effector regions is tight linkage to the cingular and opercular regions. Such inter-effector regions have been proposed to be part of a greater somato-cognitive action network necessary for integration of goals and movement. Recent evidence also points to vulnerabilities of cholinergic nerve terminals in the centro-cingulate network in older non-PD adults. These features of normal aging underscore that cortical cholinergic terminal losses in age-associated neurodegenerative disorders are likely not exclusively the result of disease-specific etiologies but also related to otherwise normal aging. 

“Practical implications of this overlap are that addressing disease-specific and general aging etiologies involved in neurodegeneration, may be of benefit in age-associated neurodegenerative disorders where significant cholinergic systems degeneration is present.”

Read the full paper: DOI: 

Corresponding Author: Nicolaas I. Bohnen

Corresponding Email: [email protected] 

Keywords: centro-cingulate network, cholinergic, cognition, motor, Parkinson disease

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About Aging: Launched in 2009, Aging (Aging-US) publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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