BACKGROUND: Depression in Parkinson's disease (PD) is common, disabling and responds poorly to standard antidepressant medication. Motivational symptoms of depression, such as apathy and anhedonia, are particularly prevalent in depression in PD and predict poor response to antidepressant treatment. Loss of dopaminergic innervation of the striatum is associated with emergence of motivational symptoms in PD, and mood fluctuations correlate with dopamine availability. Accordingly, optimising dopaminergic treatment for PD can improve depressive symptoms, and dopamine agonists have shown promising effects in improving apathy. However, the differential effect of antiparkinsonian medication on symptom dimensions of depression is not known.
AIMS: We hypothesised that there would be dissociable effects of dopaminergic medications on different depression symptom dimensions. We predicted that dopaminergic medication would specifically improve motivational symptoms, but not other symptoms, of depression. We also hypothesised that antidepressant effects of dopaminergic medications with mechanisms of action reliant on pre-synaptic dopamine neuron integrity would attenuate as pre-synaptic dopaminergic neurodegeneration progresses.
METHODS: We analysed data from a longitudinal study of 412 newly diagnosed PD patients followed over five years in the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative cohort. Medication state for individual classes of Parkinson's medications was recorded annually. Previously validated "motivation" and "depression" dimensions were derived from the 15-item geriatric depression scale. Dopaminergic neurodegeneration was measured using repeated striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) imaging.
RESULTS: Linear mixed-effects modelling was performed across all simultaneously acquired data points. Dopamine agonist use was associated with relatively fewer motivation symptoms as time progressed (interaction: β=-0.07, 95%CI [-0.13,-0.01], p=0.015) but had no effect on the depression symptom dimension (p=0.6). In contrast, monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) inhibitor use was associated with relatively fewer depression symptoms across all years (β=-0.41, 95%CI [-0.81,-0.01], p=0.047). No associations were observed between either depression or motivation symptoms and levodopa or amantadine use. There was a significant interaction between striatal DAT binding and MAO-B inhibitor use on motivation symptoms: MAO-B inhibitor use was associated with lower motivation symptoms in patients with higher striatal DAT binding (interaction: β=-0.24, 95%CI [-0.43,-0.05], p=0.012). No other medication effects were moderated by striatal DAT binding measures.
CONCLUSIONS: We identified dissociable associations between dopaminergic medications and different dimensions of depression in PD. Dopamine agonists may be effective for treatment of motivational symptoms of depression. In contrast, MAO-B inhibitors may improve both depressive and motivation symptoms, albeit the latter effect appears to be attenuated in patients with more severe striatal dopaminergic neurodegeneration, which may be a consequence of dependence on pre-synaptic dopaminergic neuron integrity.