Cognitive impairment and dementia are the most frequently occurring nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet these symptoms are mostly overlooked and are not diagnosed and treated exceptionally like the cardinal motor symptoms in clinical practice. It is only in the late twentieth century that dementia has been recognized as a major clinical manifestation in PD. The possible mechanisms that cause dementia are complex with different patterns of cognitive behavior that disrupt the patient’s quality of life. It is preeminently considered that the cholinergic denervation in the basal forebrain region mediates dementia in PD. So far, dopamine-based therapy is the key objective in the treatment of PD and the nonmotor symptoms are mostly neglected. Interestingly, the loss of Tyrosine kinase receptor-A (TrkA) signaling in basal forebrain results in neuronal atrophy, which precedes cholinergic denervation and cognitive impairment. Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) binds to TrkA receptors, inducing a cascade of events like PI-3Kinase/Akt and MAPK signaling pathways that render cholinergic degeneration and upregulate the choline acetyltransferase activity and neuronal differentiation. Hence, TrkA receptor activation by small molecules might attenuate the dementia symptoms associated with PD, and may be targeted as a novel treatment strategy along with regular clinical agents.
Part of the book: Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease