Volume 30, Issue 8 p. 1143-1147
Brief Report

Educational attainment and motor burden in Parkinson's disease

Vikas Kotagal MD, MS

Corresponding Author

Vikas Kotagal MD, MS

Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USAI

Correspondence to: Dr. Vikas Kotagal, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, SPC 5322, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
Nicolaas I. Bohnen MD, PhD

Nicolaas I. Bohnen MD, PhD

Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USAI

Neurology Service and GRECC, VAAAHS, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

University of Michigan Morris K. Udall Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Martijn L.T.M. Müller PhD

Martijn L.T.M. Müller PhD

Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

University of Michigan Morris K. Udall Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Robert A. Koeppe PhD

Robert A. Koeppe PhD

Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Kirk A. Frey MD, PhD

Kirk A. Frey MD, PhD

Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USAI

Department of Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Kenneth M. Langa MD, PhD

Kenneth M. Langa MD, PhD

Department of Internal Medicine and VA Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Roger L. Albin MD

Roger L. Albin MD

Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USAI

Neurology Service and GRECC, VAAAHS, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

University of Michigan Morris K. Udall Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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First published: 10 June 2015
Citations: 34

Funding agencies: Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (grant nos.: P01 NS015655 and P50 NS091856).

Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.

ABSTRACT

Objective

Greater educational attainment is a protective factor for neurodegenerative dementias. If education earlier in life leads to greater cerebral reserve, it may play a similar protective role in Parkinson's disease (PD).

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional clinical imaging study of 142 subjects with PD. All subjects underwent [11C]dihydrotetrabenazine PET to confirm nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation and brain MRI to estimate adjusted cortical gray matter volume (GMV).

Results

After adjusting for possible confounders, including cognitive and dopaminergic covariates, as well as nonspecific neurodegeneration covariates (age, disease duration, and total adjusted cortical GMV), lower years of education remained a significant predictor of higher total MDS-UPDRS motor score (t = −3.28; P = 0.001). Education level associated inversely with white matter (WM) hyperintensities in a post-hoc analysis (n = 83).

Conclusions

Higher educational attainment is associated with lower severity of motor impairment in PD. This association may reflect an extranigral protective effect upon WM integrity.