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It is increasingly recognized that non-motor symptoms are a prominent feature of Parkinson's disease and in the case of cognitive deficits can precede onset of the characteristic motor symptoms. Here, we examine in 4 monkeys chronically treated with low doses of the neurotoxin MPTP the early and long-term alterations of rest-activity rhythms in relationship to the appearance of motor and cognitive symptoms. Behavioral activity recordings as well as motor and cognitive assessments were carried out continuously and in parallel before, during and for several months following MPTP-treatment (12-56 weeks). Cognitive abilities were assessed using a task that is dependent on the functional integrity of the fronto-striatal axis. Rest-activity cycles were monitored continuously using infrared movement detectors of locomotor activity. Motor impairment was evaluated using standardized scales for primates. Results show that MPTP treatment led to an immediate alteration (within one week) of rest-activity cycles and cognitive deficits. Parkinsonian motor deficits only became apparent 3 to 5 weeks after initiating chronic MPTP administration. In three of the four animals studied, clinical scores returned to control levels 5-7 weeks following cessation of MPTP treatment. In contrast, both cognitive deficits and chronobiological alterations persisted for many months. Levodopa treatment led to an improvement of cognitive performance but did not affect rest-activity rhythms in the two cases tested. Present results show that i) changes in the rest activity cycles constituted early detectable consequences of MPTP treatment and, along with cognitive alterations, characterize the presymptomatic stage; ii) following motor recovery there is a long-term persistence of non-motor symptoms that could reflect differential underlying compensatory mechanisms in these domains; iii) the progressive MPTP-monkey model of presymptomatic ongoing parkinsonism offers possibilities for in-depth studies of early non-motor symptoms including sleep alterations and cognitive deficits.


Julien Vezoli, Karim Fifel, Vincent Leviel, Colette Dehay, Henry Kennedy, Howard M Cooper, Claude Gronfier, Emmanuel Procyk. Early presymptomatic and long-term changes of rest activity cycles and cognitive behavior in a MPTP-monkey model of Parkinson's disease. PloS one. 2011;6(8):e23952

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PMID: 21887350

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