Project details


The Dutch Parkinson Cohort (DUPARC)

Parkinson's disease translational Non-motor symptoms

prof. dr. T. van Laar
JM Boertien

Type of project:
Stage Wetenschap / Researchproject, Stage Wetenschap / Researchproject of MD/PhD programme

Nature of the research:
Multiple master thesis projects can be conducted within the themes mentioned under "Research question/problem definition". Besides a master thesis, publication of the results in a scientific journal is encouraged and the ambition to continue this line of research in a (MD-)PhD trajectory is preferred. On average, two patients per week are seen for the DUPARC study in the UMCG for an extensive two-day clinical characterization. (PhD-)students can be involved in all the practical parts of both the baseline and the follow-up visits, including for instance different imaging modalities (MRI, FDOPA-PET, FEOBV-PET), a complete neuropsychological examination, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and the determination of the gut microbiome composition.

Fields of study:
microbiology neurology nuclear medicine

Background / introduction
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder which is clinically defined by motor symptoms like rigidity, hypokinesia, postural instability and tremor as a result of dopaminergic neurodegeneration of the substantia nigra. Non-motor symptoms, such as cognitive impairment, visual disturbances, sleep disorders and constipation, greatly impact the quality of life of the patient as well. Currently, satisfactory treatment of these non-motor symptoms is hampered by our limited understanding of their etiology and the involvement of other neurotransmitter systems besides dopamine. Moreover, non-motor symptoms can already be present years before diagnosis. To adequately assess the impact and etiological significance of non-motor symptoms in PD, there is a need for prospective cohorts of de novo PD subjects who are treatment naïve at baseline, to eliminate the possible confounding influence of dopaminergic medication. Currently, such a cohort is being established in the UMCG, called the Dutch Parkinson Cohort (DUPARC), a well-characterized cohort of 80 untreated de novo PD subjects, aimed to include 150 patients by the end of 2019.
Research question / problem definition
The DUPARC cohort study is suitable for answering research questions related to the following non-motor manifestations of PD:
- Cognitive impairment
- Cholinergic degeneration
- Visual disturbances
- Gut microbiome composition changes
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