The role of the dopaminergic system in mood, motivation and cognition in Parkinson's disease: A double blind randomized placebo-controlled experimental challenge with pramipexole and methylphenidate

Rosa L. Drijgers, Frans R. J. Verhey, Gerrit Tissingh, Peter H. M. F. van Domburg, Pauline Aalten, Albert F. G. Leentjens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In Parkinson's disease (PD) reduced dopaminergic activity in the mesocorticolimbic pathway is implied in the pathophysiology of several non-motor symptoms related to mood, motivation and cognition. Insight in the pathophysiology of these syndromes may pave the way for more rational treatments. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled, crossover design with three arms, we studied the effects of a direct dopaminergic challenge with the dopamine 2 receptor agonist pramipexole, an indirect challenge with the dopamine reuptake inhibitor methylphenidate, and placebo on measures of mood, motivation and cognition in 23 agonist-naive PD patients and 23 healthy controls. Acute challenge with pramipexole had a negative effect on mood and fatigue in both patients and controls. In addition, challenge with pramipexole led to increased anger, fatigue, vigor and tension in healthy control subjects, but not in PD patients. Challenge with methylphenidate had a positive effect on anhedonia and vigor in PD patients. Due to its side effects after a single administration, pramipexole is probably less suitable for acute challenge studies. The acute effects of a methylphenidate challenge on anhedonia and vigor in PD patients make this drug an interesting choice for further studies of the treatment of mood and motivational disorders in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-126
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2012


  • Mood
  • Motivation
  • Cognition
  • Parkinson
  • Methylphenidate
  • Pramipexole
  • Dopamine

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