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Research paper
Behavioural and trait changes in parkinsonian patients with impulse control disorder after switching from dopamine agonist to levodopa therapy: results of REIN-PD trial


Objective In this multicentre open-label trial, we compared behavioural and neuropsychiatric symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients with impulse control disorders (ICD) treated with dopamine agonists before and 12 weeks after substituting dopamine agonists with an equivalent dose of levodopa/carbidopa slow-release formulation.

Methods Baseline characteristics of 50 PD patients with ICD were compared with those of 60 medicated and 40 drug-naive PD control groups. Neuropsychiatric trait changes in the PD-ICD group were investigated 12 weeks after the intervention. ICD behaviours were assessed via modified Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview (mMIDI), whereas parkinsonian severity and neuropsychiatric characters were systematically assessed with the Unified PD Rating Scale (UPDRS) and a predefined neuropsychological assessment battery.

Results At baseline, ICD patients showed higher scores in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and anxiety, anger and obsessive-compulsive traits compared with both PD control groups. In contrast, the three PD groups showed indifference in the impulsivity scales. At 12 weeks post intervention, ICD behaviours significantly improved (p<0.001, Δ modified MIDI score=‒5.27 ± 5.75) along with the UPDRS II daily activity scores (p=0.02, Δ=‒2.07 ± 4.53). Behavioural disinhibition tended to improve (p=0.06), although no significant changes were observed in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and personality trait scores. Dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome developed in 5.3% of the PD-ICD group.

Conclusions This study provides class IV evidence suggesting that switching from dopamine agonists to levodopa/carbidopa slow-release formulations alleviated ICD behaviours in PD patients leading to improvement in daily activities whereas neuropsychiatric traits associated with ICD persisted after the 12-week therapy.

Trial registration number NCT01683253.

  • impulse control disorder
  • parkinson’s disease
  • dopamine agonist
  • personality trait
  • clinical trial

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