Background: Constipation is regarded as one of the prodromal features of Parkinson's disease (PD) and there is emerging evidence linking gastrointestinal dysfunction and cognitive impairment (CI) in PD. Objective: We explored whether constipation is associated with development of CI in two independent cohorts of de novo PD patients (n = 196 from the Non-motor International Longitudinal Study [NILS] and n = 423 from the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative [PPMI] study). Methods: Constipation was clinically defined using the Non-Motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS) item-21 [NILS] and Scales for Outcomes in PD-Autonomic (SCOPA-AUT) item-5 [PPMI]. We assessed baseline group differences (PD with or without constipation) in CI, global non-motor symptoms burden, motor dysfunction, and striatal dopaminergic denervation. Kaplan-Meier method estimated group differences in cumulative proportion of patients with incident CI over three years. In PPMI, we subsequently performed univariate and multivariate Cox survival analyses to evaluate whether constipation predicts incident mild cognitive impairment or dementia over a 6-year period, including constipation and other known predictors of CI as covariates. Results: Patients with constipation had greater motor and global non-motor burden in both cohorts at baseline (p < 0.05). Kaplan-Meier plots showed faster conversion to CI in patients with constipation in both cohorts (p < 0.05). In PPMI, 37 subjects developed dementia during a mean follow-up of 4.9 years, and constipation was an independent predictor of dementia onset (hazard ratio = 2.311; p = 0.02). Conclusion: Constipation in de novo PD patients is associated with development of cognitive decline and may serve as a clinical biomarker for identification of patients at risk for cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • cognition
  • constipation
  • dementia
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • Parkinson's disease


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