The purpose of this study is to compare the neuropsychological profile of patients affected by parkinsonism and vascular lesions to that in patients with PD alone (PD) and to evaluate whether the brain vascular lesion load is associated with neuropsychological variables. Thirty-six nondemented patients with parkinsonism were divided into 3 groups of 12 patients each, according to both clinical history and the presence of brain vascular lesions and/or dopaminergic denervation as revealed by magnetic resonance and dopamine transporter imaging, respectively. The first group had vascular lesions without dopaminergic denervation (VP group); the second group had vascular lesions and dopaminergic denervation (DD) (VP+DD group); and the third group consisted of patients with dopaminergic denervation (PD group) without vascular lesions. All patients underwent neurological and neuropsychological assessments. The groups differed in disease duration, age at onset, and cerebrovascular risk factors. The VP and VP+DD groups performed worse than the PD group on frontal/executive tasks. Regardless of the presence of dopaminergic denervation, cerebrovascular lesions in hemispheric white matter, basal ganglia, and cerebellum have an important effect in determining early onset and severity of cognitive impairment in patients with parkinsonism
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