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Research Paper
Dopamine dysregulation syndrome in Parkinson's disease: from clinical and neuropsychological characterisation to management and long-term outcome
  1. Roberto Cilia,
  2. Chiara Siri,
  3. Margherita Canesi,
  4. Anna Lena Zecchinelli,
  5. Danilo De Gaspari,
  6. Francesca Natuzzi,
  7. Silvana Tesei,
  8. Nicoletta Meucci,
  9. Claudio Bruno Mariani,
  10. Giorgio Sacilotto,
  11. Michela Zini,
  12. Claudio Ruffmann,
  13. Gianni Pezzoli
  1. Parkinson Institute, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Roberto Cilia, Parkinson Institute, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento, via Bignami 1, Milan 20126, Italy; roberto.cilia{at}, roberto.cilia{at}


Objective Dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS) refers to a compulsive pattern of dopaminergic drug misuse complicating Parkinson's disease (PD). To date, few data are available on DDS risk factors, cognitive profile and long-term outcome.

Methods In this retrospective case-control study, consecutive PD outpatients fulfilling criteria for DDS were assessed over a 6-year period (2005–2011). They were compared with 70 PD cases matched for age at onset, gender and disease duration, and with 1281 subjects with motor fluctuations and dyskinesias. DDS patients and matched controls underwent extensive neuropsychological assessment. Strategies for DDS patients management and the outcome at the last follow-up visit were recorded.

Results Thirty-five patients with DDS were identified, reporting history of depression, family history of PD and drug abuse, greater difference between ‘Off’ versus ‘On’ motor symptoms compared to age-matched controls. They had younger age at onset (but not any gender difference) compared to general PD population. Cognitive profile of DDS did not show major abnormalities, including executive functions. DDS patients have been followed up for 3.2±2.1 years and remission was recorded in 40% of cases. Negative DDS outcome was significantly associated with poor caregiver supervision. Sustained remission occurred more commonly on clozapine and on duodenal levodopa infusion and subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) than on apomorphine pump treatment.

Conclusions Clinicians should be aware of risk factors predisposing to DDS. Duodenal levodopa infusion and, less consistently, STN-DBS were more commonly associated with DDS remission. Effective caregiving plays a key role in long-term behavioural outcome.

  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Behavioural Disorder
  • Movement Disorders
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Clinical Neurology

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