The neurobiology of impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease: from neurotransmitters to neural networks

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Impulse control disorders (ICD) are common neuropsychiatric disorders that can arise in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients after commencing dopamine replacement therapy. Approximately 15% of all patients develop these disorders and many more exhibit subclinical symptoms of impulsivity. ICD is thought to develop due to an interaction between the use of dopaminergic medication and an as yet unknown neurobiological vulnerability that either pre-existed before PD onset (possibly genetic) or is associated with neural alterations due to the PD pathology. This review discusses genes, neurotransmitters and neural networks that have been implicated in the pathophysiology of ICD in PD. Although dopamine and the related reward system have been the main focus of research, recently, studies have started to look beyond those systems to find new clues to the neurobiological underpinnings of ICD and come up with possible new targets for treatment. Studies on the whole-brain connectome to investigate the global alterations due to ICD development are currently lacking. In addition, there is a dire need for longitudinal studies that are able to disentangle the contributions of individual (genetic) traits and secondary effects of the PD pathology and chronic dopamine replacement therapy to the development of ICD in PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Journal Article
  • Review

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