Parkinson`s Disease as a model for mechanisms of body weight regulation

Project Description:

Parkinson`s disease (PD) is often accompanied by significant changes of body weight depending on disease stage and concomitant therapy. Following deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN), PD patients frequently show a massive weight gain, whereas non-operated PD patients typically lose weight over the disease course. Several mechanisms must be considered when studying weight changes in PD including ongoing neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, degeneration of extranigral neurons, involvement of peripheral tissues and dopaminergic treatment. With regard to anti-Parkinsonian therapy, dopamine was shown to increase thermogenesis and mitochondrial mass in brown adipocytes. The aim of the project is to prospectively study drug-naïve PD patients and healthy controls to understand the impact of neurodegeneration and dopaminergic replacement therapy on the body weight, body composition and adipose tissue alterations.


Experimental Methods:

  • Two groups of subjects: drug-naïve PD patients and healthy controls
  • Resting and movement related energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry
  • Body composition by air displacement plethysmography
  • BAT activation by infrared thermography camera
  • Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neural response to food stimuli (task-related fMRI)
  • Gene expression of adipokines and metabolically relevant parameters, e.g. glycolysis, ß-oxidation, lipolysis