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Impulse control disorders in patients with Parkinson's disease receiving dopamine replacement therapy: evidence and implications for the addictions field

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To describe the prevalence, phenomenology and correlates of ‘impulse control disorders’ (ICDs) in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) treated with dopamine replacement therapy (DRT); to assess the strength of the evidence that DRT plays a contributory causal role in these disorders; and to highlight the implications of these disorders for research in the addiction field. Methods 

PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched and the reference lists of papers examined. Results 

The prevalence of ICDs in Parkinson's patients using DRT varied between 3.5% and 13.6%, depending on the severity and range of disorders assessed. PD patients with ICDs were: generally younger; had an earlier onset of PD; had a personal or family history of substance abuse or an ICD; and were more likely to be treated with dopamine receptor agonists (DA agonists) than levodopa (l-dopa). There is reasonable evidence that dopaminergic medications play a causal role in ICDs in that they occur at a higher rate in an otherwise low-risk population of adults, begin after initiation of DA agonist therapy and cease upon its discontinuation. A causal relationship is biologically plausible, but the role of other factors (such as concurrent mood disorders) remain to be clarified by better-controlled studies. Conclusions 

Impulse control disorders among patients with Parkinson's disease receiving dopamine replacement therapy may provide a unique opportunity for addiction researchers to study the neurobiology of impulsive forms of behaviour (such as problem gambling) that appear to be caused, in part, by the therapeutic use of dopamine receptor agonists.

Keywords: Behavioural addictions; Parkinson's disease; dopamine agonists; gambling; hypersexuality; impulse control disorders; substance abuse

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2011


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