The Influence of Dopaminergic Striatal Innervation on Upper Limb Locomotor Synergies

Ioannis U. Isaias, Jens Volkmann, Alberto Marzegan, Giorgio Marotta, Paolo Cavallari, Gianni Pezzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To determine the role of striatal dopaminergic innervation on upper limb synergies during walking, we measured arm kinematics in 13 subjects with Parkinson disease. Patients were recruited according to several inclusion criteria to represent the best possible in vivo model of dopaminergic denervation. Of relevance, we included only subjects with normal spatio-temporal parameters of the stride and gait speed to avoid an impairment of upper limbs locomotor synergies as a consequence of gait impairment per se. Dopaminergic innervation of the striatum was measured by FP-CIT and SPECT. All patients showed a reduction of gait-associated arms movement. No linear correlation was found between arm ROM reduction and contralateral dopaminergic putaminal innervation loss. Still, a partition analysis revealed a 80% chance of reduced arm ROM when putaminal dopamine content loss was >47%. A significant correlation was described between the asymmetry indices of the swinging of the two arms and dopaminergic striatal innervation. When arm ROM was reduced, we found a positive correlation between upper-lower limb phase shift modulation (at different gait velocities) and striatal dopaminergic innervation. These findings are preliminary evidence that dopaminergic striatal tone plays a modulatory role in upper-limb locomotor synergies and upper-lower limb coupling while walking at different velocities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51464
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 7 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Isaias, I. U., Volkmann, J., Marzegan, A., Marotta, G., Cavallari, P., & Pezzoli, G. (2012). The Influence of Dopaminergic Striatal Innervation on Upper Limb Locomotor Synergies. PLoS One, 7(12), [e51464].